February 2012 Notebook


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Voted Today

I voted today. The forecasted thunderstorms were late arriving, and I figured I could use a short walk. I strolled over to the local polling place, successfully navigated Kurt Kobach's photo ID gauntlet, and apparently cast a vote on the single question on the ballot. The question was whether to rebate 75% of the local hotel taxes over the next fifteen years to a new downtown "boutique" hotel. Publicists claim this helps develop downtown, adding 124 service jobs ongoing plus close to a thousand construction jobs short-term. The primary opposition force was the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity -- they saw it as a corporate giveaway, which of course it was. The more ideologically thoughtful saw it as unbalancing the free market: as an exclusive break for one business, it gives that business an unfair advantage against every other hotel in town. That, too, is true, as will become apparent when all those other hotels petition the city council for the same break.

I voted no, against the rebate. I'm sick and tired of all such special tax deals. They've become so common -- especially in Red State America, where Republicans see business favors as essential patronage, and Democrats are equally unscrupulous in their efforts to paint themselves as pro-business -- that nobody makes a business investment these days without auctioning it off to state and local governments. The best way to stop this would be strong national laws to put a stop to the practice -- minimally by taxing local tax preferences, possibly by prohibiting them outright (at the very least they go against the notion of equal treatment under the law). But short of that, the least we can do is to vote them down when we get the chance (or shout them down when we don't).

Update: The rain showed up a bit after 8PM, pretty heavy in fact, with a couple tornado warnings north of Wichita, in McPherson and Marion counties. The hotel tax rebate was voted down, with 61% (16,198) no, 38% (10,107) yes. The group that backed the yes vote spent $300,000; the no group spent $30,000. (Report here.)

Second Update: Kris Kobach announced he was pleased with Wichita test of voter ID law. Turnout was about 13.5% of registered voters, a level that Republicans can win with. By the way, that line of thunderstorms dropped a tornado on Harveyville, KS last night. Gov. Brownback declared Harveyville a disaster area, but since Brownback's been governor you could say that about the whole state.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 19444 [19410] rated (+34), 874 [851] unrated (+23). It's been three weeks since I last counted, so this isn't a very productive report, but the 11-12 days took up by the Detroit trip explains most of the ratings decline. Still, I doubt if I'll be up to normal for a while: another trip is looming, and premature spring seems to already be here.

One more note, which fits as well here as anywhere else. David Schweitzer died a couple days ago, a heart attack at age 44 -- more proof of Todd Snider's line, "the number one sign of heart disease is sudden death." Schweitzer was a protégé of Robert Christgau's. He got in touch with me shortly after I built Christgau's website and helped out in many ways, especially by relentlessly chasing down errors I had introduced. I've corresponded with him for ten years, and will miss his interests and insights. Thankfully, Jason Gubbels has collected some of the latter here.

I still have vague plans of unveiling a new blog format for Jazz Consumer Guide, but find myself with a sufficient accumulation of Jazz Prospecting notes that I might as well post here. There is at present such an enormous time gap between the last Jazz CG and some future blog that it will take months to catch up. Don't know how I'll handle archiving, or much of anything else, but this still makes sense to me as a methodology for taking notes, and at present there is no reason not to share. Don't know whether this will happen weekly or less frequently.

AIMToronto Orchestra: Year of the Boar (2010 [2011], Barnyard): AIM stands for Association of Improvising Musicians, a 17-piece free jazz big band under the artistic direction of soprano saxophonist Kyle Brenders. The group was formed to play Anthony Braxton's Creative Orchestra (Guelph) 2007. Here they do some of their own work: three pieces by Brenders, two by Justin Haynes, and one each by Joe Sorbara and Germaine Liu. I find the squeaky strings and scattered vocals detract some, but the odd angles and experimental flair are striking. B+(*)

Ehud Asherie: Upper West Side (2009 [2012], Posi-Tone): Pianist, b. 1979, Israeli (as I recall; his Flash website crashed when I tried to look at it), based in New York; sixth album since 2007. This is a duo "with" tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, who gets smaller, skinny type on the front cover, but carries the standards set, especially from "Our Love Is Here to Stay" (fourth song) on. At times Asherie reminds me of one of those pianists who used to accompany silent films, but he keeps Allen moving, rarely finding a solo spot, as on "My Blue Heaven" where he raises Fats Domino to a higher energy orbit. A-

Axel's Axiom: Uncommon Sense (2009 [2011], Armored): Axel is Schwintzer, b. in Köln, Germany, plays piano/keyb; studied at Berklee, wound up in New York. Group has two saxophones, guitar, bass, drums. Postbop, I guess; not fusion in any recognizable sense, although a certain rock-friendliness seems to be part of the idea. B+(*)

Matt Baker: Underground (2011, self-released): Pianist, from Australia, based in New York; first album, wrote 5 (of 8) pieces. Augments his trio with Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and Dayna Stephens on tenor sax -- Pelt especially adds a lot of sass, and gets the rhythm jumping behind him. B+(*)

David Budway: A New Kiss (2011, MaxJazz): Pianist, from Pittsburgh, classical background, four albums since 1995. This is about half trio (with Eric Revis on bass and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums), with 4 (of 11) cuts adding soprano sax (Branford Marsalis or Marcus Strickland), two of those guitar (Ron Affif), one of those accordion (Joe "Sonny" Barbato). The piano has a crisp rhythmic crunch, and the mix gets richer with the extra instruments, all the way up to the finale ("Sama'i Shat Arabud"). B+(**)

Tito Carrillo: Opening Statement (2011, Origin): Trumpet player, originally from Austin, TX; now based in Chicago (more or less: teaches at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). First album, mostly a quartet with piano-bass-drums, but 4 (of 10) cuts add a saxophonist (Geof Bradfield or Phillip Doyle). Postbop, the trumpet especially striking. B+(*)

Erik Charlston JazzBrasil: Essentially Hermeto (2010 [2011], Sunnyside): Plays vibraphone and marimba, leading a group with Ted Nash (saxes, flute, clarinet), Mark Soskin (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), Rogério Boccato (drums, percussion), and Café (more percussion). I don't have a sense of Charlston's discography, in part because AMG seems to have filed some of it elsewhere, but this is the only album mentioned on Charlston's website. Six (of eight) songs by Hermeto Pascoal. Nash is a constant delight here, a much better choice than the usual guitar would have been, but most of all the leader adds some extra bounce to a perfectly fine rhythm section. B+(***)

Kevin Crabb: Waltz for Dylan (2010 [2011], Crabbclaw): Drummer, first album, wrote all of the pieces, played by Kelly Jefferson (sax), John Beasley (piano), and Don Thompson (bass). I can't really parse Crabb's biography: looks like he grew up in Canada (Toronto), moved to Florida, studied at Pepperdine, and stayed in Los Angeles. Postbop, doesn't break any new ground but has a nice tone and feel, the sax downright lush. B+(*)

Hans Glawischnig: Jahira (2011 [2012], Sunyside): Bassist -- cover pic shows him with a 4-string bass guitar, has a thick body like an acoustic but no hole in the middle. From Austria, b. 1970, third album since 2004, plus three dozen or more side credits, enough with Latin artists to peg him as a specialist (Miguel Zenón, David Sanchez, Ray Barretto, Dafnis Prieto, Luis Perdomo). This is a trio with saxophonist Samir Zafir (tenor, soprano) and drummer Eric Doob. You listen to the spare and elegant sax, but the bass is even more so. B+(***)

Aaron Goldberg/Ali Jackson/Omer Avital: Yes! (2009 [2012], Sunnyside): Artist order on spine, which puts the pianist first. Front cover has Jackson first (left-to-right, like the picture), so AMG credits this to Avital -- a tic they've picked up in the last year, which makes it hard to find multi-artist albums and makes their counts all the more unreliable. Four (of nine) originals, two each by Avital and Jackson, mixed in with covers from Ellington (two), Monk, and Ibrahim. B+(**)

Taylor Haskins: Recombination (2009 [2011], 19/8): Trumpet player, b. 1971, fourth album since 2004. Postbop, group includes Ben Monder (guitar), Henry Rey (piano), Todd Sickafoose (bass), Nate Smith (drums), and Samuel Torres (percussion). Rey and Haskins alternating on laptop and various synths, with dollops of cheesy post-fusion expertly sliced up by the trumpet. B+(**)

Edgar Knecht: Good Morning Lilofee (2009 [2011], Ozella): German pianist, first album as far as I can tell, a trio plus a couple of guests. Fast rhythm-based pieces, I gather 3/4 German dance tunes and 6/8 Afro-Cuban are the main ingredients. This kind of snappy piano work seems to be a European exclusive. Here everyone wants to be Bill Evans, but over there Esbjörn Svensson rools. B+(***)

The George Lernis Jazz Quartet: Shapes of Nature (2011, self-released): Picked this out almost randomly after the Kevin Crabb album (alphabetized above) and turns out this is almost exactly the same deal: a drummer-led alto sax-piano-bass quartet, first album, smart and tasteful postbop. Lernis was b. 1980 in Cyprus, studied at Berklee, based on Boston. This is the (slightly) better album, largely thanks to saxophonist Scott Boni, who offers a sharper edge as well as some extra sweetness. B+(**)

Nick Moran Trio: No Time Like Now (2011 [2012], Manor Sound): New York guitarist (note that there's also a Chicago saxophonist with same name). Second album, a trio with Brad Whiteley on organ and Chris Benham on drums. I don't quite get the point of organ trios other than that they make you lick your chops thinking of Jimmy Smith's chicken shack. B+(*)

Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto: Current (2010 [2011], Adventure Music): Pianist, b. 1954 in Rio de Janeiro, based in Seattle, eighth album since 1997, mostly with this Quintet, which dates back to 1993. With Harvey Wainapel on clarinets and saxes, bass, drums, and percussion, plus vibes on four cuts, voices on one. The Brazilian influence runs deep and permeates the soft surface. B+(*)

Youn Sun Nah: Same Girl (2010 [2011], ACT): Singer, from Korea, left Seoul for Paris in 1995, studied at CIM Jazz School. Website shows seven albums since 2001. This one was recorded in Sweden with guitarist Ulf Wakenius, Lars Danielsson on bass and cello, and Xavier Desandre-Navarre on percussion. Starts with a spare "My Favorite Things," winds authoritatively through Sergio Mendes and Randy Newman and Metallica and Philippe Sarde, with two originals, one piece by Wakenius, and one Korean trad. B+(**)

The New World Jazz Composers Octet: Breaking News (2011, Big and Phat): Organized by saxophonist Daniel Ian Smith 11 years ago, but first album didn't come out until 2007, then one each in 2010 and 2011. Octet has two saxes, two trumpets, piano, bass, drums, and percussion -- effectively a lean big band with fast soloists but no section depth. Seven pieces by six composers, only two (Felipe Salles and Walter Platt) in the band. B+(**)

The Sam Pannunzio Trio: Goin' Home (2010 [2011], Eastside Jazz): Pianist, with Lionel Kramer on drums and the late Mark Bullis on bass, both named and pictured on the front cover. B. 1949 in Colorado. AMG lists one previous album, Java Jazz, and bio says he started out in NORAD and spent some time supporting Kenny G, neither relevant here. Wrote everything here but one tune by Dvorak. B+(*)

Alan Pasqua: Twin Bill: Two Piano Music of Bill Evans (2011, BFM): Solo piano with an overdubbed accompaniment, something Evans did (not sure how many times). Songs are mostly by Evans, with one from Scott LaFaro, "Nardis" from Miles Davis, a trad Scandinavian folk song, one by Pasqua, and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," which Pasqua associates in his mind as a primal influence, like Evans. Doesn't have the usual piano duo feel, so the interaction of the two parts is more subtle than I can fathom. B+(*)

Oscar Peterson: Unmistakable [Zenph Re-Performance] (2010 [2011], Sony Masterworks): Newly recorded solo piano, using a Bösenderfer piano and some extra hardware (a "SE2 System") I don't really understand, and some software that somehow captured Peterson at the piano. Give it a blindfold test and anyone moderately familiar with jazz piano will at least think of Peterson. Eight songs (counting the Ellington medley as one) in two versions: stereo and "binaural stereo" (the latter billed as "the ultimate headphone experience"). B+(*)

Lola Regenthal: With You (2011, Origin): Swedish singer, first album, recorded in Switzerland, done simply with guitar and bass/cello. Mostly originals, plus covers from Jobim, Arlen, the Gershwins, and Leon Russell. Voice takes a while to settle in, but the 1:56 "Summertime" fragment is striking. B+(*)

Matt Slocum: After the Storm (2011, Chandra): Drummer, second album, leading a piano trio here with Gerald Clayton and Massimo Biolcati. Wrote 6 (of 9) pieces, the covers from Porter, Ravel, and Rodgers-Hart. Clayton is a dilligent pianist, and keeps this moving at a high level. B+(**)

Gary Smulyan: Smul's Paradise (2011 [2012], Capri): Baritone saxophonist, b. 1956, mainstream guy, has ten albums since 1990. Wish I could say more, but his back catalog (on Criss Cross and Reservoir) has eluded me. Looks toward soul jazz this time, with two songs from and one for Don Patterson, and picked out a very fine group to do it with: Mike LeDonne (organ), Peter Bernstein (guitar), and Kenny Washington (drums). B+(**)

Sultans of String: Move (2011, self-released): Toronto, Canada group: Chris KcKhool (violin, viola), Kevin Laliberté (guitar), Eddie Paton (guitar), Drew Briston (bass), Rosendo "Chendy" Leon (percussion), with various friends and guests. Third album, sort of a world mix with the guitarists especially fond of flamenco, with gypsy jazz and Cuban rhythms and a bit of Brazil in the mix, but McKhool's violin usually gets the final say. B+(*)

Talking Cows: Almost Human (2011 [2012], Morvin/Jazz Sick): Dutch group: Frans Vermeerssen (tenor sax), Robert Vermeulen (piano), Don Nijland (double bass), Yonga Sun (drums). Third album, following 2006's Bovinity and 2008's Dairy Tales. More mainstream than avant-garde, but their bright good humor links them to the pop side of perennial jokesters like Breuker and Mengelberg. B+(***)

Dan Tepfer: Goldberg Variations/Variations (2011, Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1982 in Paris, France; had an early record in 2004, and now three on Sunnyside, starting with the impressive Duos With Lee. This is inevitably less to my taste, but I imagine it's hard to get very far on piano without running into a lot of Bach, and those with a taste for such things do hold him in highest regard. Opening and closing with a joint-credited "Aria," the meat here are Bach's 30 Goldberg Variations, ranging from 0:28 to 3:40 (but only 3 longer than 1:37), each followed by a short improvisation (again, only 3 topping 1:37) in the same vein. B+(*)

Steve Turre: Woody's Delight (2011 [2012], High Note): The trombonist played in Woody Shaw's quintet in the early 1980s, so there's a connection behind this tribute. Various quintet lineups -- Turre is determined to spread the pleasures, so he rotates five trumpet players (Wallace Roney, Claudio Rodito, Chocolate Armenteros, Freddie Hendrix, and a show-stealing Jon Faddis), five percussionists, four bassists, three keyboard players. Most of the cast are Latino, and the latter half of a rather scattered album is dominated by bongos and congas. B+(*)

Doug Webb: Swing Shift (2009 [2012], Posi-Tone): Saxophonist, has done a lot of studio work but not much under his own name until he hooked up with this label. Quartet with piano, bass, and drums; three covers, three originals -- two co-credited to bassist Stanley Clarke, including one that stretches out to 22:22. Previously thought of him as a mainstream player, but this seems to be his Saxophone Colossus move. B+(***)

The Wee Trio: Ashes to Ashes: A David Bowie Intraspective 2011 [2012], Bionic): Bass-vibes-drums trio: Dan Loomis, James Westfall, and Jared Schonig, respectively. Third album, works off six David Bowie songs. The vibes give the group a light and fanciful touch, but Bowie's melodies don't offer the group much to work with, even recognition. B

Unpacking: Found in the mail over the last three weeks:

  • Lynne Arriale: Solo (Motéma)
  • Anna Borges & Bill Ward: Receita de Samba (Brasil)
  • François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Alexey Lapin: In Motion (Leo)
  • Mel Carter: The Other Standards (CSP)
  • Oscar Castro-Neves: Live at Blue Note Tokyo (Zoho)
  • Todd Clouser's A Love Electric: 20th Century Folk Selections (Royal Potato Family)
  • Romain Collin: The Calling (Palmetto)
  • Rick Drumm and Fatty Necroses: Return From the Unknown (self-released)
  • Scott DuBois: Landscape Scripture (Sunnyside): March 13
  • Jimmy Earl (1995, Severn): March 20
  • Jimmy Earl: Stratosphere (1998, Severn): March 20
  • Yelena Eckemoff: Forget-Me-Not (Yelena Music)
  • Gene Ess: A Thousand Summers (SIMP)
  • Essex Improviser's Collective: Lifting the Light (Fred Taylor Music, 2CD)
  • Aretha Franklin: Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998 (Arista/Legacy)
  • Bill Frisell: Floratone II (Savoy Jazz)
  • Katie Guthorn: Why Not Smile? (self-released)
  • Joel Harrison 7: Search (Sunnyside): advance, March 27
  • Jonny King: Above All (Sunnyside): March 27
  • Sabrina Lastman: The Candombe Jazz Sessions (Zoho)
  • Dave Mooney: Perrier Street (Sunnyside): March 27
  • John Moulder Quintet: The Eleventh Hour: Live at the Green Mill (Origin)
  • Piero Odorici: Cedar Walton Presents (Savant)
  • Eivind Opsvik: Overseas IV (Loyal Label)
  • Johnny Padilla: Bright Morning (self-released)
  • Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver: Family Ties (Leo)
  • Jerome Sabbagh: Plugged In (Bee Jazz): advance, April 26
  • Woody Shaw: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection (1977-81, Columbia/Legacy, 6CD)
  • Mary Stallings: Don't Look Back (High Note)
  • Melissa Stylianou: Silent Movie (Anzic): advance, March
  • Scott Tixier: Brooklyn Bazaar (Sunnyside): March 14
  • The Michael Treni Big Band: Boy's Night Out (self-released)
  • Upper Left Trio: Ulternative (Origin)
  • Piet Verbist: Zygomatik (Origin)
  • Nils Weinhold: Shapes (self-released)
  • Dan Wilensky: Back in the Mix (Speechless Productions): March 13


  • Andrew W.K.: I Get Wet (2002, Mercury)

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Goldfrapp: The Singles (2000-12 [2012], Mute): B+(*) [Rhapsody]

Expert Comments

Got an email obit for Red Holloway:

Just got an email notice that soul jazz saxophonist Red Holloway has died, at 84. Not one of the greats, but he had his moments if you're into that sort of thing, and his 2008 album Go Red Go! would hit the spot right now.

I also see on the right that pianist Mike Melvoin has passed, at 74. I'm less familiar with him, but two 2006 albums crossed my desk and were pretty good.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Film in 2011

I figured the eve of the Academy Awards would be as good a time as any to catch up on the movies I mostly didn't see in 2011. We wound up seeing less than twenty, even counting a couple picked up on TV well after the fact. (Laura may have seen more of the latter, since she controls the TV and I rarely notice what she's watching.) In past years we've seen upwards of 80% of the Oscar-nominated films, falling short mostly in the crash-and-burn categories, but lots of things held us back in 2011, including short runs. (I caught The Skin I Live In on the last day of a one-week run, but more often than not things just slipped by -- I can't recall movies like Beginners and A Better Life ever appearing here, while Albert Nobbs waited until the week we had to go to Detroit.)

Seems like an exceptionally shallow year, even taking account of my light sampling. One indication of how far the industry has dumbed down is that nine of the ten highest-grossing films were sequels: Harry Potter, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Twilight Saga, Mission Impossible, Kung Fu Panda, Fast Five (as in Fast and Furious), The Hangover, and Cars -- the sole exception, at number nine, was another well-known franchise, The Smurfs. Three are animated. Most of the rest are non-stop action trysts. This may not prove we're sinking into the new Dark Age -- although the Republican primaries are hard to dismiss in that regard -- but if not we're sure suffering from a nasty case of ADHD. (Curiously, television, which has long seemed culpable as the prime destroyer of our attention spans, has rarely produced so many smart series and specials -- not that the dreck hasn't increased apace.)

The trend I hate the most is 3D, which pretty much spoiled Hugo for me until I was later able to reconstruct it without the diversions. Curious that the two most Oscar-nominated pictures are nostalgic tributes to the silent film era, as if the Academy is desperate to escape from the world the industry has created. I was underwhelmed by The Artist, occasionally flashing back to films like Modern Times showing that history itself offered better resolutions.

My own favorite movie limited its nostalgia to the 1950s, which is all I can remember anyway. Nothing wrong with my top five movies, but I doubt I could find a year in the last fifty that yielded less. No time to research that. Let the lists follow.


  • My Week with Marilyn: actress (Michelle Williams), supporting actor (Kenneth Branagh) [A]
  • The Descendants: picture, actor (George Clooney), director, adapted screenplay, editing [A-]
  • The Help: picture, actress (Viola Davis), supporting actress (Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer) [A-]
  • Midnight in Paris: picture, director, original screenplay, art direction [A-]
  • Moneyball: picture, actor (Brad Pitt), supporting actor (Jonah Hill), adapted screenplay, editing, sound mixing [A-]
  • Hugo: picture, director, adapted screenplay, editing, cinematography, art direction, costume design, visual effects, sound mixing, sound editing, original score; saw in 3D, would have preferred in 2D [B+]
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes: visual effects [B+]
  • The Artist: picture, actor (Jean Dujardin), supporting actress (Bérénice Bejo), director, original screenplay, editing, cinematography, art direction, costume design, original score [B+]
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: actress (Rooney Mara), editing, cinematography, sound mixing, sound editing; would rate higher but for the Swedish original [B+]
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: actor (Gary Oldman), adapted screenplay, original score [B+]
  • The Ides of March: adapted screenplay [B+]
  • Rango: animated feature [B+]
  • Bridesmaids: supporting actress (Melissa McCarthy), original screenplay [B-]
  • The Adventures of Tin Tin: original score
  • Albert Nobbs: actress (Glenn Close), supporting actress (Janet McTeer), makeup
  • Anonymous: costume design
  • Beginners: supporting actor (Christopher Plummer)
  • A Better Life: actor (Demian Bichir)
  • Drive: sound editing
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: picture, supporting actor (Max Von Sydow)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2: art direction, makeup, visual effects
  • The Iron Lady: actress (Meryl Streep), makeup
  • Jane Eyre: costume design
  • Margin Call: original screenplay
  • Real Steel: visual effects
  • A Separation: original screenplay
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: visual effects, sound mixing, sound editing
  • The Tree of Life: picture, director, cinematography
  • War Horse: picture, cinematography, art direction, sound mixing, sound editing, original score
  • Warrior: supporting actor (Nick Nolte)
  • W.E.: costume design

Movies I saw but that didn't get nominated for anything:

  • The Lincoln Lawyer [A-]
  • The Skin I Live In [A-]
  • Horrible Bosses [B+]
  • Source Code [B+]
  • Hanna [B+]
  • The Adjustment Bureau [B]

Movies that looked like they might be worth seeing: The Adventures of Tintin, Anonymous, A Better Life, Contagion, A Dangerous Method, Drive, J. Edgar, Jane Eyre, Margin Call, The Muppets, The Tree of Life, The Way.

Less sure about: Carnage, Cedar Rapids, The Conspirator, The Debt, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, In the Land of Blood and Honey, The Iron Lady, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Melancholia, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Shame, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Super 8, Thor, War Horse, Warrior, Water for Elephants.

Also seems like some day I should see the Harry Potter movies.

Above lists come from perusing Wikipedia's 2011 in Film list. The list doesn't include some things, like any of the Foreign Language Film nominees (Bullhead, Footnote, In Darkness, Monsieur Lazhar, and A Separation).

Academy Awards by category:

  • Picture (6/9): The Descendants, The Help, Midnight in Paris
  • Actor (4/5): George Clooney
  • Actress (3/5): Michelle Williams
  • Supporting Actor (2/5): Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hill
  • Supporting Actress (4/5): Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain
  • Director (4/5): Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  • Original Screenplay (3/5): Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  • Adapted Screenplay (5/5): Moneyball
  • Animated Feature (1/5): Rango
  • Documentary Feature (0/5)
  • Foreign Language Film (0/5)
  • Film Editing (5/5): Moneyball
  • Cinematography (3/5): The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Art Direction (2/5): Midnight in Paris
  • Costume Design (2/5): Hugo
  • Makeup (0/3)
  • Visual Effects (2/5): Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Sound Mixing (3/5): The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Sound Editing (2/5): Hugo
  • Original Score (3/5): Hugo

Expert Comments

Belatedly looked at the comment section today, only to discover that David Schweitzer has died, age 44, evidently a heart attack:

Was surprised and saddened to hear of David Schweitzer's passing here. This sent me back not to his comments but to my mail files. As best I can tell, David first contacted me in February 2002, to point out some errors on the Christgau website. He was one of the first volunteers to contribute, helping to transform the project from a personal to a community effort. I've heard from him often ever since then; something I will miss going forward.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ed Kilgore found an interesting quote from "Conservative U.S. News blogger Scott Galupo" (but doesn't provide the link):

Hardcore conservative opposition to Obama has always been cultural and theological. The pop-theological mainstream of American evangelicals has so thoroughly assimilated the ideal of American capitalism that any deviation, however modest, from it is tantamount to radical godless humanism. And, in an extension of an older intradenominational debate, conservative Catholics like Santorum deeply mistrust the ideal of "social justice" as championed by the Catholic left.

Leaving aside the last sentence for the moment, there is certainly something to the evangelical embrace of capitalism as an article of faith, and I find it very disturbing. The one place I've always held out some hope for Christianity is the notion that it is the only major pre-capitalist orientation to survive the bourgeois and industrial revolutions, and as such many people can look back into their roots to find a critique of capitalism's worst excesses. Indeed, it isn't hard to find religious people who oppose war and social injustice, but the Christian right has turned into something else completely.

Every now and then you run into a church -- usually a big one not affiliated with any denomination you'd recognize from fifty years ago -- dedicated to a crudely materialist gospel of success, but the split seems more likely to be interdenominational. I grew up among fundamentalists and evangelicals, and found that they tended to cleave into two distinct personality types: those who saw their mission as to help others, and those who looked to religion to condemn others. The latter have been easy pickings for the right: one way to look at America today is to see how the 1% have not only withdrawn as far from civil society as colonial elites in the former third world, they've mastered divide and conquer, manipulating their lessers' loathing of each other, anything that gives class struggle a free pass.

Still, it always surprises me when you I stumble across some Tea Partier spouting Hayek, or even Ayn Rand: so much of what they say is so groundless (not to mention proudly ignorant) that one is surprised to find them reaching out for serious ideas, even patently false ones. But it makes sense: Hayek and Rand lock like viruses into right-wing DNA: Hayek is the paranoid who denies that any public good can be attained through democratic action, and Rand extolls the right of the few who identify with her to rape everyone else. Conservatives, after all, are always the Us in Us-Against-Them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Expert Comments

Chris Monsen FOAT/GOAT list:

  1. Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime
  2. Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz to Come
  3. Television: Marquee Moon
  4. Wire: Pink Flag
  5. Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch
  6. The Clash: London Calling
  7. Gang of Four: Entertainment
  8. Thelonious Monk: Monk's Music
  9. Pere Ubu: Dub Housing
  10. Al Green: Call Me
  11. The Coasters: 50 Coastin' Classics
  12. Charles Mingus: Mingus at Antibes
  13. Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street
  14. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Going On
  15. Talking Heads: Remain In Light
  16. The Band: The Band
  17. James Brown: Foundations of Funk: A Brand New Bag 1964-1969
  18. Duke Ellington: Flaming Youth
  19. Various: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  20. Henry Threadgill Sextett: Rag, Bush & All
  21. Hüsker Dü: New Day Rising
  22. Sleater-Kinney: The Hot Rock
  23. Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps
  24. Prince: Dirty Mind
  25. OutKast: Aquemini

Greg Morton:

  1. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
  2. Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run
  3. Derek and The Dominoes: Layla
  4. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main St.
  5. The Clash: London Calling
  6. The Beatles: Rubber Soul
  7. Bob Dylan: Highway 61
  8. Bob Dylan: "Love And Theft"
  9. Van Morrison: Moondance
  10. Miles Davis: In A Silent Way
  11. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model
  12. The Mekons: Mekons Rock n Roll
  13. The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
  14. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme
  15. Marshall Crenshaw: Field Day
  16. The Blasters: Non-Fiction
  17. Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out
  18. The Wrens: The Meadowlands
  19. Al Green: Al Green's Greatest Hits Vol. 1
  20. Abbey Lincoln: The World Is Falling Down
  21. James Brown: Star Time
  22. Elvis Presley: The King of Rock and Roll: The 50's Masters
  23. Tougher Than Tough: The Story Of Jamaican Music
  24. Sonny Rollins: Silver City
  25. Mott the Hoople: The Ballad of Mott: A Retrospective

Hairy Irene (no numbers, no names):

  • Loaded
  • Tusk
  • Cupid & Psyche '85
  • Kate and Anna McGarrigle
  • Curse of the Mekons
  • Here Come the Warm Jets
  • Out of Our Heads
  • Under the Big Black Sun
  • Wh'appen?
  • Spring Hill Fair
  • Rock n Roll
  • I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  • Whammy!
  • Field Day
  • Brotherhood
  • Roxy Music
  • Tha Carter III
  • Rabbit Fur Coat
  • Goo
  • This Nation's Saving Grace
  • Wild Honey
  • A Kick Inside
  • Present Tense
  • Kill the Moonlight
  • Planet Waves

Bradley Sroka:

  1. Steely Dan: Can't Buy a Thrill
  2. James Brown: Star Time
  3. Otis Redding, The Very Best of Otis Redding (Rhino)
  4. Ella Fitzgerald, Ken Burns Jazz
  5. Sonny Rolins: Ken Burns Jazz
  6. Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap 1945-2001
  7. Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic
  8. Billie Holiday: Ken Burns Jazz
  9. Girl Group Greats (Rhino)
  10. Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers
  11. M.I.A.: Kala
  12. Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Spiritual
  13. Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  14. Billie Holiday & Lester Young: A Musical Romance
  15. It Will Stand: Minit Records 1960-1963 (EMI America)
  16. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A.
  17. Brad Paisley: American Saturday Night
  18. Rilo Kiley: More Adventurous
  19. Pierre Boulez, et al.: Webern: Complete Works Opp. 1-31 (Sony)
  20. Clara Haskil/Ferenc Fricsay: Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 19 & 27 and Piano Sonata K. 280 (DG Originals)
  21. Luna: Penthouse
  22. Glenn Gould: Great Performances - Bach: Goldberg Variations (1955 mono recording) (Sony)
  23. Ornette Coleman: Dancing in Your Head
  24. The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die
  25. Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out

Walter Cherretté:

  1. The R&B Box:30 years of Rhythm & Blues
  2. The Sun Records Collection
  3. Hitsville U.S.A.: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971
  4. Beatles: Red Album 1962-1966
  5. Beatles: Blue Album 1967-1970
  6. Rolling Stones: The Singles Collection 1963-1971
  7. The Psychedelic Years 1966-1969
  8. Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix Collection)
  9. James Brown: Solid Gold: 30 Golden Hits
  10. The Who: The Very Best of the Who
  11. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Chronicle Vol 1
  12. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
  13. Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music
  14. The Disco Box (Rhino)
  15. Neil Young: Decade
  16. No Thanks!!! '70 Punk Rebellion (Rhino)
  17. Elvis Costello: This Years Model
  18. Lynyrd Skynyrd: One More From the Road
  19. Steely Dan: Showbizz Kids (Steely Dan Story 1972-1980)
  20. Prince: The Hits/The B-Sides
  21. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A.
  22. King Sunny Ade: Best of the Classic Years
  23. Left of the Dial: Dispatches From the '80s Underground (Rhino)
  24. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
  25. Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation's Dark

Tom Lane:

  1. Elvis Presley: Sun Sessions
  2. Beatles: Rubber Soul
  3. Clash: London Calling
  4. Michael Jackson: Thriller
  5. Motown Classics: Gold
  6. Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia
  7. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
  8. Derek & the Dominos: Layla
  9. Saturday Night Fever (soundtrack)
  10. Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
  11. Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend
  12. Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
  13. George Jones: 50 Years of Hits
  14. Bob Marley: Legend
  15. Hank Williams: Ultimate Collection
  16. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story
  17. Prince: Purple Rain
  18. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Cosmo's Factory
  19. Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark
  20. Merle Haggard: Hag: The Best Of
  21. James Brown: 50th Anniversary Collection
  22. Led Zeppelin: IV
  23. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man
  24. Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  25. Frank Sinatra: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Joe Yanosik (added an extra 10):

  1. James Brown: Star Time (Polydor Box 1991)
  2. The Stooges: Fun House (Elektra 1970)
  3. The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers (Home of the Hits 1976)
  4. The Mekons: Rock 'n' Roll (Blast First 1989)
  5. Big Star: Radio City (Ardent 1974)
  6. The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M 1969)
  7. Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia 1971)
  8. New York Dolls: Too Much Too Soon (Mercury 1974)
  9. Brian Wilson: SMiLE (Capitol 2004)
  10. Ramones: Ramones (Sire 1976)
  11. Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St. (Rolling Stones 1972)
  12. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (Verve 1969)
  13. DJ Shadow: Endtroducing . . . (Mo' Wax 1996)
  14. Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves (DGC 1998)
  15. Louis Armstrong: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Columbia/Legacy Box 1994)
  16. M.I.A.: Kala (Interscope 2007)
  17. Nirvana: Nevermind (DGC 1991)
  18. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland (Reprise 1968)
  19. Television: Marquee Moon (Elektra 1977)
  20. Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (Columbia 1967)
  21. Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic (ABC 1974)
  22. The Beatles: Stereo Box (Capitol Box)
  23. Franco & Rochereau: Omona Wapi (Shanachie 1984)
  24. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps (Reprise 1979)
  25. X: Wild Gift (Elektra 1981)
  26. Thelonious Monk Quartet: Misterioso (Riverside 1958)
  27. Sly & the Family Stone: Greatest Hits (Epic 1970)
  28. Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (Antilles 1982)
  29. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam 1988)
  30. The Clash: The Clash (Epic import 1977)
  31. Duke Ellington: Flaming Youth (RCA Vintage 1969)
  32. John Coltrane: Live at the Village Vanguard (Impulse 1961)
  33. Parliament: Greatest Hits (Casablanca 1984)
  34. Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys (Slash 1994)
  35. Wussy: Funeral Dress (Shake It 2005)
  36. Professor Longhair: Crawfish Fiesta (Alligator 1980)

Stanley Whyte:

  1. The Mekons: Fear and Whiskey
  2. Brian Eno: Another Green World
  3. X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents
  4. The Clash: The Clash (UK edition)
  5. The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St.
  6. Wire: Pink Flag
  7. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
  8. Aztec Camera: High Land, Hard Rain
  9. Flipper: The Generic Album
  10. The Chills: Submarine Bells
  11. The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs
  12. Liliput: Liliput
  13. Guitar Paradise of East Africa
  14. REM: Murmur
  15. Chuck Berry: Golden Decade (Volume 1)
  16. Gang of Four: Solid Gold
  17. Bruce Springsteen: Darkness on the Edge of Town
  18. Pogues: Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
  19. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks
  20. The Beatles: Please, Please Me
  21. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
  22. The Clash: London Calling
  23. Ramones: Leave Home
  24. Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend
  25. Psychedelic Furs: Talk, Talk, Talk

Nate Smith (sharpsm) -- "no jazz, country, blues, or world music":

  1. James Brown: Star Time
  2. Bob Dylan: "Love And Theft"
  3. Michael Hurley/Unholy Modal Rounders/Jeffrey Frederick & the Clamtones: Have Moicy!
  4. The Beatles: With The Beatles
  5. Sly and the Family Stone: Greatest Hits
  6. LL Cool J: Mama Said Knock You Out
  7. Randy Newman: 12 Songs
  8. Chuck Berry: The Definitive Collection
  9. Ramones: Ramones
  10. Bob Dylan & The Band: A Tree With Roots
  11. The "5" Royales: Monkey Hips and Rice: The "5" Royales Anthology
  12. Kate And Anna McGarrigle: Kate And Anna McGarrigle
  13. Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique
  14. Aretha Franklin: Spirit in the Dark
  15. The Beatles: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  16. Pavement: Wowee Zowee
  17. Professor Longhair: Crawfish Fiesta
  18. Moby Grape: Moby Grape
  19. De La Soul: Buhloone Mindstate
  20. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection
  21. The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin
  22. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
  23. The Byrds: The Notorious Byrd Brothers
  24. Al Green: The Belle Album
  25. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation

Nick Farruggia posted what appears to be the cumulative list (similar compilations added together; "deluxe" editions noted [+1, +2]; haven't grouped ties yet):

  1. Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street 264 (23)
  2. The Clash: London Calling 246 (19)
  3. Television: Marquee Moon 226 (21)
  4. The Clash: The Clash [US/UK] 219 (19)
  5. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited 193 (16)
  6. James Brown: Star Time [+ Solid Gold, Foundations of Funk, 50th Anniversay Collection] 191 (17)
  7. Beatles: Rubber Soul 178 (15)
  8. The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs 176 (16)
  9. DJ Shadow: Endtroducing [+1] 137 (12)
  10. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A. 135 (12)
  11. Kanye West: Late Registration 123 (9)
  12. Velvet Underground: Velvet Underground 123 (11)
  13. The Replacements: Let It Be 113 (10)
  14. Derek and the Dominos: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs 105 (9)
  15. Wire: Pink Flag 102 (8)
  16. Bob Dylan: "Love and Theft" 102 (7)
  17. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 99 (10)
  18. Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic 98 (10)
  19. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back 97 (12)
  20. Chuck Berry: Golden Decade [+ 28, Chess Box, Definitive Collection, Gold] 95 (10)
  21. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation 94 (9)
  22. Pavement: Wowee Zowee 92 (6)
  23. Michael Hurley/Unholy Modal Rounders/Jeffery Fredericks & the Clamtones: Have Moicy! 89 (7)
  24. New York Dolls: New York Dolls 88 (6)
  25. Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks 87 (8)
  26. The Indestuctable Beat of Soweto 86 (7)
  27. Louis Armstrong: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 86 (5)
  28. Big Star: Radio City 85 (9)
  29. Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed 85 (7)
  30. M.I.A.: Kala 84 (9)
  31. Pet Shop Boys: Very 84 (7)
  32. Van Morrison: Moondance 84 (8)
  33. The Mekons: Fear & Whiskey 83 (6)
  34. Joni Mitchell: Blue 81 (8)
  35. Beatles: Revolver 79 (7)
  36. The Mekons: Rock n Roll 78 (9)
  37. Go-Betweens: Tallulah 77 (7)
  38. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks 75 (6)
  39. Gang of Four: Entertainment 74 (7)
  40. Prince: Sign o the Times 73 (8)
  41. Sly & the Family Stone: Greatest Hits 72 (7)
  42. The Band: The Band 72 (7)
  43. Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road 72 (7)
  44. Brian Eno: Another Green World 71 (6)
  45. Velvet Underground and Nico: Velvet Underground and Nico 70 (7)
  46. Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville 68 (6)
  47. Otis Redding: Complete and Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul 65 (6)
  48. Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde 64 (6)
  49. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks 64 (7)
  50. Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Kate and Anna McGarrigle 63 (6)
  51. Al Green: Al Green's Greatest Hits [+ Spotlight on Al Green] 62 (8)
  52. Al Green: Call Me 61 (6)
  53. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection 61 (6)
  54. Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 60 (5)
  55. Wussy: Funeral Dress 58 (5)
  56. Patti Smith: Horses 56 (5)
  57. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps 55 (6)
  58. Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out 55 (8)
  59. The Who: The Who Sell Out [+2] 55 (5)
  60. Kanye West: College Dropout 53 (5)
  61. Elvis Presley: The King of Rock and Roll: The 50s Masters [+ 30 #1 Hits, Elvis' Golden Records, Worldwide 50 Gold Award] 53 (5)
  62. Beatles: A Hard Day's Night 53 (5)
  63. Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971 [+ Motown Gold] 52 (4)
  64. X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents 51 (3)
  65. X: Wild Gift 51 (6)
  66. Hank Williams: 40 Hits [+ Ultimate Collection, Gold] 50 (6)
  67. Modern Lovers: Modern Lovers 50 (6)
  68. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model 50 (5)
  69. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 49 (4)
  70. Nirvana: In Utero 48 (4)
  71. PJ Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea 48 (5)
  72. Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run 47 (3)
  73. Franco and Rochereau: Omana Wapi 47 (5)
  74. Miles Davis: In a Silent Way 47 (4)
  75. Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves 47 (4)
  76. John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band 45 (5)
  77. Nivana: Nevermind 44 (5)
  78. Love: Forever Changes 44 (3)
  79. Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet 43 (4)
  80. Neil Young: After the Gold Rush 42 (5)
  81. Husker Dü: New Day Rising 42 (4)
  82. Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding 40 (4)
  83. Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain 39 (3)
  84. Bruce Springsteen: Darkness at the Edge of Town 39 (4)
  85. New York Dolls: In Too Much Too Soon 39 (3)
  86. Elvis Presley: Sun Sessions 39 (2)
  87. Tricky: Maxinquaye 38 (3)
  88. The Wrens: The Meadowlands 37 (4)
  89. Ramones: Ramones 37 (4)
  90. Neil Young: Tonight's the Night 37 (3)
  91. Ornette Coleman: Shape of Jazz to Come 37 (3)
  92. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible 36 (5)
  93. Prince: Dirty Mind 36 (4)
  94. Franco: Francophonic Vol. 2 35 (4)
  95. Aretha Franklin: Spirit in the Dark 35 (4)
  96. Brian Wilson: SMiLE 35 (3)
  97. Ramones: Rocket to Russia 35 (4)
  98. Lucinda Williams: Lucinda Williams 35 (4)
  99. Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique 35 (4)
  100. Sleater-Kinney: The Hot Rock 34 (3)
  101. Led Zeppelin: IV 34 (4)
  102. Beatles: Red Album 62-66 33 (3)
  103. Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers 33 (3)
  104. Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music 33 (3)
  105. Prince: Hits 1 & Hits 2/B-Sides 33 (3)
  106. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 32 (4)
  107. Rolling Stones: Aftermath 32 (3)
  108. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP 31 (5)
  109. Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners 31 (3)
  110. Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill 31 (3)
  111. Girl Talk: Feed the Animals 30 (3)
  112. Thelonious Monk: CONCENSUS COMP 30 (2)
  113. Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson 30 (2)
  114. Bob Dylan & the Band: The Basement Tapes 30 (3)
  115. Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstacy 30 (3)
  116. Stooges: Fun House 30 (4)
  117. Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland 30 (3)
  118. Randy Newman: Good Old Boys 30 (3)
  119. Miles Davis: Kind of Blue 30 (3)
  120. Beach Boys: Pet Sounds 30 (3)
  121. The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope 30 (3)
  122. Go-Betweens: Spring Hill Fair 29 (2)
  123. Sleater-Kinney: Call the Doctor 29 (2)
  124. Pavement: Brighten the Corners 29 (2)
  125. Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home 28 (2)
  126. Brad Paisley: American Saturday Night 28 (2)
  127. Belle and Sebastian: If You're Feeling Sinister 28 (3)
  128. Beatles: With The Beatles 28 (3)
  129. Neil Young: Decade 28 (3)
  130. Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta! 27 (2)
  131. Bob Dylan: Modern Times 27 (3)
  132. M.I.A.: Arular 18 (2)
  133. The 5ive Royales: Monkey Hips and Rice: The Very Best of the 5 Royales 27 (3)
  134. The Who: CONSENSUS COMP 27 (2)
  135. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours 26 (3)
  136. Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III 26 (3)
  137. Velvet Underground: Loaded 26 (2)
  138. The Coasters: 50 Coastin' Classics 26 (3)
  139. Velvet Underground: 1969: Velvet Underground Live 26 (3)
  140. The Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime 25 (2)
  141. Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend 25 (3)
  142. Paul Simon: Graceland 25 (2)
  143. King Sunny Ade: Best of the Classic Years 25 (2)
  144. Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady 25 (2)
  145. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Chronicle 25 (3)
  146. Moby Grape: Moby Grape 25 (2)
  147. Gogol Bordello: Underdog World Strike! 24 (2)
  148. Michael Jackson: Thriller 24 (2)
  149. Marshall Crenshaw: Field Day 24 (3)
  150. My Bloody Valentine: Loveless 23 (3)
  151. Blondie: Parallel Lines 23 (2)
  152. Aretha Franklin: Aretha's Gold 23 (2)
  153. Hole: Live Through This 22 (2)
  154. Pavement: Slanted & Enchanted [+1] 22 3
  155. Archers of Loaf: Icky Mettle 22 (2)
  156. Richard and Linda Thompson: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight 22 (2)
  157. Iggy Pop: Lust for Life 22 (2)
  158. Wussy: Strawberry 22 3
  159. Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet 21 (2)
  160. Girl Group Greats 21 (2)
  161. Ocean of Sound 21 (2)
  162. The Music in My Head 21 (3)
  163. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Cosmo's Factory 21 (2)
  164. Miles Davis: The Complete On the Corner Sessions 21 (2)
  165. Yo La Tengo: I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One 20 (2)
  166. Sonic Youth: Sister 20 (2)
  167. Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus 20 (2)
  168. Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. 220 (2)
  169. Talking Heads: Remain in Light 20 (2)
  170. Steely Dan: Showbizz Kids (Steely Dan Story 1972-1980) 20 (2)
  171. Girl Talk: All Day 20 (2)
  172. Talking Heads: The Name of this Band Is Talking Heads 20 (2)
  173. Go-Betweens: 1978-1990 20 (2)
  174. No Thanks!!! '70 Punk Rebellion (Rhino) 20 (2)
  175. Richard and Linda Thompson: Shoot Out the Lights 20 (2)
  176. The Mekons: Out of Our Heads (OOOH!) 20 (2)
  177. Al Green: The Belle Album 20 (2)
  178. The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin 20 (2)
  179. English Beat: Wha'ppen? 20 (2)
  180. The Kinks: Kink Kronikles 20 (2)
  181. REM: Murmur 20 (2)
  182. The Byrds: Notorious Byrd Brothers 20 (2)
  183. The Who: Who's Next 20 (2)
  184. Liz Phair: Whitechocolatespaceegg 19 (2)
  185. The Shirelles: 25 All-Time Greatest Hits [+ The Very Best of the Shirelles] 19 (2)
  186. P.M. Dawn: Of The Heart, Of the Soul, and Of the Cross 19 (2)
  187. Neutal Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 18 (2)
  188. Pet Shop Boys: Pop (1986-2006) 18 (2)
  189. Funkaelic: Motor City Madness: The Ultimate Funkadelic Compilation 18 (2)
  190. The Psychedelic Furs: Talk Talk Talk 18 (2)
  191. Sonny Rollins: CONSENSUS COMP 18 (2)
  192. Eric B. & Rakim: The Best of Eric B. & Rakim [The Millennium Collection] 17 (2)
  193. Motown: The Classic Years [+ Tamla Motown Gold] 17 (2)
  194. Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis 17 (2)
  195. Iris DeMent: My Life 17 (2)
  196. Luna: Penthouse 17 (2)
  197. David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars 17 (2)
  198. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 16 (2)
  199. Beatles: Abbey Road 16 (2)
  200. Neil Young: On the Beach 16 (2)
  201. Toots and the Maytals: Funky Kingston 16 (2)
  202. Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York 16 (2)
  203. Le Tigre: Le Tigre 16 (2)
  204. Bonnie Raitt: Give It Up 16 (2)
  205. Van Morrison: Into the Mystic 16 (2)
  206. Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark 16 (2)
  207. Aerosmith: Rocks 16 (2)
  208. Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala 16 (2)
  209. Slayer: Reign in Blood 15 (2)
  210. Ghostface Killah: Fishscale 15 3
  211. Outkast: Aquamini 15 (2)
  212. Curtis Mayfield/The Impressions: The Anthology 1961-1977 15 (2)
  213. Beatles: Yesterday and Today 15 (2)
  214. The Replacement: Please to Meet Me 15 (2)
  215. Jungle Brothers: Done By the Forces of Nature 15 (2)
  216. Professor Longhair: Crawfish Fiesta 15 (2)
  217. Jimi Hendrix: Jimi Hendrix Collection (Voodoo Child) 15 (2)
  218. The Pogues: Rum Sodomy and the Lash 15 (2)
  219. Beatles: Second Album 15 (2)
  220. Hüsker Dü: Candy Apple Grey 15 (2)
  221. Beach Boys: Wild Honey 15 (2)
  222. Ornette Coleman: Dancing in Your Head 14 (2)
  223. Ramones: Leave Home 14 (2)
  224. The Dead Milkmen: Big Lizard in My Backyard 14 (2)
  225. Frank Ocean: Nostalgia, Ultra 13 (2)
  226. Anthology of American Folk Music 13 (2)
  227. Todd Snider: East Nashville Skyline 13 (2)
  228. Rilo Kiley: More Adventurous 12 (2)
  229. The Blasters: Non-Fiction 12 (2)
  230. The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die 11 (2)
  231. Burial: Untrue 10 (2)
  232. Los Campesinos!: Hold On Now, Youngster 10 (2)
  233. The Kinks: Are The Village Green Preservation Society 10 (2)
  234. PiL: Metal Box 10 (2)

Robert Christgau jotted down this FOAT list (later admitting omission of Velvet Underground):

  • have moicy rounders etc
  • moondance morrison
  • clash
  • kala mia
  • guitar paradise of east africa
  • beatles second album
  • rolling stones now
  • new york dolls
  • funeral dress wussy
  • late registration west
  • indestructible beat
  • shirelles greatest
  • marvelettes greatest
  • misterioso monk
  • immortal otis redding
  • gilded palace of sin burritos
  • aftermath stones
  • exile stones
  • pretzel logic steely dan
  • ramones
  • rocket to russia ramones
  • call me green
  • star time brown
  • sgt pepper duh
  • kind of blue duh
  • berry definitive collection
  • layla derek
  • 12 songs newman
  • *after the gold rush young
  • *music in my head
  • a thousand leaves sonic youth
  • endtroducing shadow
  • *latin playboys
  • *sky is crying elmore james
  • brazil classics 4 ze
  • omona wapi franco/rochereau
  • in a special way debarge
  • love and theft dylan
  • spirit in the dark franklin
  • portrait of the artist as a young man armstrong
  • girl group greats

More charts and lists, ephemera and miscellany, more or less here. I didn't participate in this poll, but you can find my 1000+ Moon List here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back Home

Thought I should note that we made it back home to Wichita -- a couple days ago, in fact. Did what we needed to do in Detroit, and hopefully won't have to do anything more. Probably means I'll never go back there, which in some ways is a shame: lot of things about the area I wound up enjoying, although I can't say as I enjoyed any of them this time. (Didn't even manage to get to Book Beat or Streetside Records, now conveniently next door in the same strip mall as my late father-in-law's favorite deli -- The Bread Basket, which we did get to.)

Unwinding here has been very slow, but I figured I should at least post something. Listened to nothing but oldies on the trip. (I packed a case of new jazz then left it at home.) I've been playing the new Floratone since we got back, but can't make up my mind on it. Finally popped it up and wrote two jazz notes this afternoon -- records I needn't bother with ever again. Then turned to Rhapsody and became indecisive again, this time over Imperial Teen and Sleigh Bells. On the other hand, we did get out to see two Oscar-nominated movies we hadn't managed to find time for previously: The Artist and The Descendants. Missed the "last chance" for The Iron Lady tonight, a subject as distasteful as the also-missed J. Edgar (although I was more intrigued by what Eastwood might have done there).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Roundup

Most likely I won't be able to post on Sunday, so thought I should kick these out prematurely:

  • Adam Gopnik: The Caging of America. Interesting article on how the US became the world's number one jailor state. I've been meaning to write more about this piece, but haven't gotten it done. Much of this is derived from William J. Stuntz: The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, who makes good points about what's wrong and vague ones about what should be done.

  • Glenn Greenwald: The Growing Iranian Military Behemoth: Irony alert: Iran still spends less than 1% of what the US spends for its military. If Ahmadinejad doubles that, it's still less than 2%. Includes a chart, and a map of all the US bases surrounding Iran, but it doesn't have enough resolution to pick out the aircraft carriers and such in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Does not include a corresponding map of Iran's foreign military bases, because, well, there aren't any.

  • Jason Gubbels: Barbara Ehrenreich Already Warned Us About the Komen Foundation: Quotes from Ehrenreich's Welcome to Cancerland article, all worth reading, plus this illustration:

  • Ed Kilgore: Regressively Worse:

    As Kevin Drum notes today, the data on state tax burdens, as illustrated by a new report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, shows a sea of regressivity, particularly in states that rely disproportionately on consumption taxes and property taxes that are levied at flat rates on assets that are disproportionately limited for those at or near the bottom of the income scale. [ . . . ] But the overall picture is a grim confirmation of the fact that the limited progressivity of federal taxes must be weighed against the unwillingness or inability of most of the states to follow suit.

    The notorious variability of state and local taxes make it hard to come up with any equitable tax plan. There's also a big problem with carve-outs, where businesses get exemptions or other favors -- they've become so common around here that businesses that don't demand them are just being stupid. I've long felt that the solution to this would be to set the federal tax level high enough to cover state and local needs all across the country, then pass the money down to the state and local authorities. If they wind up with more money than they need or want, they can in turn rebate their citizens. Uniform tax rates would eliminate a lot of the practice of businesses auctioning plants off to whoever gives them the sweetest tax deal -- a game that is far worse than zero-sum.

  • Andrew Leonard: Why Wall Street Hates a Healthy Labor Market: "It's simple: When workers gain some leverage, it gets a little harder to generate totally obscene profits." Main thing here is a quote from a stock forecaster, warning that lower employment could drive profits, and therefore stock values, down:

    In other words, stock prices could slump because an increase in the demand for labor will put upward pressure on wages. For the vast majority of Americans, this is fantastic news. For the 1 percent, not so much.

    The news inspires memories of the go-go days of the dot-com boom, when the stock market greeted every new monthly release of gangbuster job growth numbers with a sharp sell-off. Wall Street doesn't like it when American workers are in demand.

    This is something to keep in mind when you see Republicans pushing for austerity measures that hurt the economy, especially by throwing people out of work.

    Also see Leonard's Wall Street's Song of Obama Woe. I still think these bankers have it pretty good compared to how much actual value they produce, and I suspect that their histrionics are just for show. But if banking looks less lucrative, maybe smart young college grads will go elsewhere and actually do something useful with their lives.

  • Trita Parsi: How Obama Became Vulnerable on Iran:

    Iran was fast expanding its influence in the region during the George W. Bush Presidency. "Iran was on a roll," one Obama Administration official told me. But in the past three years, it has lost its regional momentum. Iran's domestic political situation is much more unstable following the fraudulent 2009 elections, its source of soft power in the region has take a hit following the Arab uprisings, its economy is hurting under the crushing weight of government mismanagement and sanctions, and its ability to play the major powers against each other has been severely limited since Obama took office.

    Yet, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC poll, Americans disapprove of the way Obama has handled the Iran issue by a 48 to 33 percent margin. This result is well below his overall job performance numbers and significantly worse than the approval ratings for his handling of terrorism and international affairs.

    The numbers must have perplexed Democratic operatives. Efforts by the White House to showcase how tough Obama has been on Iran -- including National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon's triumphalist speech at the Brookings Institute in November 2011 -- have failed to impress the public.

    But it is also because of the Obama administration permitted the Right to define the metrics of success on Iran. Obama has completely bought into the idea that a "strong" Iran policy is one that is tough, punishing and confrontational. As on so many other issues, Obama has permitted the debate to take place on the Right's turf. In doing so, he has betrayed his own platform of pursuing "smart" rather than just "tough" policies.

    Also see Jordan Michael Smith: Chastened Liberal Hawk Fears Clash With Iran: The hawk in question is Kenneth Pollack, who wrote an influential book advocating invasion of Iraq, then went to follow it up with one on Iran before he started to get cold feet:

    Pollack was one of the authors of America's "dual-track" policy with Iran, whereby efforts at serious talks are coupled with sanctions. He is now convinced that policy is failing. "The problem is that Iran sees it very differently from the way we see it," Pollack said in an interview. "They put our efforts in terms of human rights and reaching out to the opposition, as well as the sanctions, in the same scheme as what the Israelis are doing, which includes assassinations, acts of sabotage, cyberattacks; and what the Saudis are doing, which is aid to basically every group fighting the Iranian proxies all over the Middle East; and what the British are doing, which is gathering information."

    Cumulatively, he says, these efforts are convincing Iran not that it should relinquish its nuclear efforts but that it is under attack: "To the Iranians, this looks like a concerted Western covert war against them." The current hard-line regime in Iran takes this as the threat of war, and is prepared to fight a war rather than back down, Pollack says. His TNR article points out the ways in which U.S. policies toward Iran, intended as an alternative to war, are leading us directly to that result. [ . . . ]

    Pollack's perspective is informed by his experience with Iraq. He was instrumental at the CIA and NSC in implementing sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, sanctions that he rightly calls "the most draconian sanctions ever in history, probably." Those sanctions ultimately failed, in preventing war, in being a humane policy, and in persuading the court of international opinion.

    "Everyone assumed that Saddam Hussein would have to do what the international community wanted, because he wouldn't dare to starve his people to death. But guess what? He decided to starve his people to death." About Iran today, he says, "Everyone thinks now sanctions are so great, we're putting so much pressure on the Iranians, but I don't think it's going to be enough pressure to get the Iranians to cave, and in one or two years we're going to hear that the Central Bank sanctions are too harsh, and they need to be lifted. That's what happened in Iraq."

    One recurrent problem with sanctions is that I can't recall when the US ever imposed sanctions without tying them to regime change -- a pose that both required demonizing the existing regime and that militated against ever compromising. (Myanmar may be an exception, one that shows how little emotional attachment we have there.) No regime wants to give up power, least of all due to a tantrum by an overweening foreign power. As for what a threatened nation would do to gain the presumed safety of nuclear weapons, I'm reminded that Ali Bhutto of Pakistan swore his country would "eat grass" if that's what it took to build the bomb. (North Korea pretty much did just that.)

  • James Surowiecki: Private Inequity: One good thing about Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy is that it provides a "teachable moment" to help people learn about private equity firms:

    The real reason that we should be concerned about private equity's expanding power lies in the way these firms have become increasingly adept at using financial gimmicks to line their pockets, deriving enormous wealth not from management or investing skills but, rather, from the way the U.S. tax system works. Indeed, for an industry that's often held up as an exemplar of free-market capitalism, private equity is surprisingly dependent on government subsidies for its profits. Financial engineering has always been central to leveraged buyouts. In a typical deal, a private-equity firm buys a company, using some of its own money and some borrowed money. It then tries to improve the performance of the acquired company, with an eye toward cashing out by selling it or taking it public. The key to this strategy is debt: the model encourages firms to borrow as much as possible, since, just as with a mortgage, the less money you put down, the bigger your potential return on investment. The rewards can be extraordinary: when Romney was at Bain, it supposedly earned eighty-eight per cent a year for its investors. But piles of debt also increase the risk that companies will go bust. [ . . . ]

    As if this weren't galling enough, taxpayers are left on the hook. Interest payments on all that debt are tax-deductible; when pensions are dumped, a federal agency called the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation picks up the tab; and the money that the dealmakers earn is taxed at a much lower rate than normal income would be, thanks to the so-called "carried interest" loophole. The money that Mitt Romney made when he was at Bain Capital was compensation for his (apparently excellent) work, but, instead of being taxed as income, it was taxed as a capital gain. It's a very cozy arrangement.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Pity the Billionaire

Another excerpt from the Wichita Eagle Blog today, titled Pompeo takes on Kochs' critics:

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, authored a Politico commentary calling on the Obama administration and congressional Democrats to stop harassing the Kochs. It was his comeback to the unsuccessful efforts of Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Bobby Rush, D-Ill., to demand that "a representative of Koch Industires" testify at a hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, a project Koch has said it has no stake in. "Charles Koch and David Koch, co-owners of Koch Industries, are U.S. citizens, taxpayers, entrepreneurs and employers. Their businesses employ nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. alone," Pompeo wrote, noting its 2,600 Kansas employees. "The company has never been bailed out by the U.S. taxpayers. Given that many Americans are now desperate for jobs, we should be begging entrepreneurs to look for new opportunities -- not attacking them because their companies might make a profit."

There's been a groundswell of "pity the billionaire" articles about the Kochs recently, which like all of their groundswells suggests central planning. And who better than Pompeo to praise them, especially since he was their guy in the 2008 Republican primary. Coincidentally, I have another quote from Thomas Frank's book, Pity the Billionaire (pp. 76-77):

As the Tea Party grew, becoming the official populist response to the economic disaster, opportunities both political and economic saw the gathering crowds and the spreading outrage as their very own ship, sailing benevolently into port. Indeed, the categories of "politics" and "profit" became so thoroughly scrambled on the resurgent Right that by September of 2010 it was possible for Mike Pompeo, a Republican candidate for Congress in Wichita, Kansas, to describe the political movement itself as "a restoration of the great American entrepreneurial spirit." There were so many entrepreneurs, and they swung into action so quickly in the wake of the protests, that you sometimes wondered if their affluence wasn't the object of the agitation all along.

I actually have a lot of respect for entrepeneurs who founded companies that build things, although I can also think of plenty of examples of such who went on to use their wealth and power for ill purposes -- Henry Ford's notorious antisemitism is a classic example -- and they tend to be the rule rather than the exception, probably because there's something fundamentally rotten about living off a profit margin. But whereas Ford built his company from scratch, the Kochs inherited theirs, and while I do have respect for Charles Koch as a smart and principled businessman -- David is another story altogether -- he grew his company mostly through shrewd acquisitions and stern management, not to mention tax breaks and political payola. (The Bush Administration, for instance, settled hundreds of EPA charges against Koch for pennies on the dollar, with no concession of wrongdoing. In some ways, a "get out of jail card" is even better than a bailout.) To say that Koch created 50,000 jobs is nonsense.

Still, the Kochs aren't being attacked for their business work -- although they are in a notoriously dirty business, and they have an utterly scandalous environmental track record, and the oil industry has long been the poster boy for government corruption (although finance and pharmaceuticals have more than caught up). The problem with the Kochs is that they pump so much money into subverting our democracy. The more we have become aware of their activities, the more conscious we become of where that money comes from and what kind of world they want to create.

Book Roundup

Another installment of recent book notes. Seemed like it had been a while, and indeed it has: last set ran on November 26, so this is probably the longest gap I've had in years. The problem is probably that I don't get out to bookstores as often as I used to, but then it's harder when the four big chain bookstores in Wichita we had last year have now been reduced to one -- and not a very good one at that. In fact, when I looked at my scratch file, I didn't even have the requisite 40 titles saved up, so I had to spend a few days scrambling through Amazon's recommendations. And while I'm in a complaining mood, I'm suspicious that their algorithms have gone south too -- especially when they make Charles Murray my number four (reportedly because I purchased Corey Robin's critique of The Reactionary Mind).

I need to do further research, but here's a start for the new year.

Bruce Bartlett: The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform, Why We Need it and What It Will Take (2012, Simon & Schuster): Conservative ideologue, has somehow nudged himself into a position of relative sanity through a series of books that tried to argue that conservatives were actually nice guys, not racists, and concerned with everyone's economic well-being -- despite much evidence that real conservatives are anything but. This book is probably useful in sorting out who pays what taxes and how the US systems compares to others, and isn't knee-jerk anti-tax, but he has long had a supply-side bias.

Morris Berman: Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline (2011, Wiley): Not sure that's a bad thing, just as I'm not sure the Roman Empire was a good thing. I did read Berman's previous Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire (but not his The Twilight of American Culture) so I get the idea of cultural rot, and there is certainly a lot of that around.

Rodric Braithwaite: Afghantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 (2011, Oxford University Press): Not the first book on the Russian war in Afghanistan, but the more the US occupation resembles the Soviet one, the more relevant they become. The early accounts assumed the US would do so much better, but here we are with "the most nuanced, sympathetic, and comprehensive account yet of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan" (says Rory Stewart).

Paula Broadwell/Vernon Loeb: All In: The Education of General David Petraeus (2012, Penguin): Like Michael Hastings, Broadwell was an embedded journalist attached to the general running Afghanistan, although she has been much better behaved, or maybe Petraeus is just better at snookering the press. Petraeus is about the only person who came up through the Bush wars and managed to look like a winner -- an iconic image I'm sure he's at pains to burnish here.

Jeffrey D Clements: Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It (paperback, 2012, Bennett-Koehler): An issue on the front burner thanks to the Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to buy elections with unlimited money, based on yet another dubious idea that constitutional protection of free speech gives individuals the right to buy elections. Related: Thom Hartmann: Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" -- and How You Can Fight Back (paperback, 2nd ed, 2010, Bennett-Koehler).

Sherar Cowper-Coles: Cables From Kabul: The Inside Story of the West's Afghanistan Campaign (2011, Harper Collins): By the former British ambassador to Afghanistan, which makes him complicit in a war he had no real control over, which puts him in a fine position to blame everyone else -- assuming, of course, he realizes there was anything to blame anyone for.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita/Alastair Smith: The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics (2011, PublicAffairs): A really modern Prince, the dictators in question evidently not just the usual suspects but including a few Americans who have made a good living acting badly -- Amazon has a long comment on Robert Rizzo, a city manager in CA. Also makes clear that even the most flamboyant dictator depends on a fragile network of support, something useful to keep in mind as regimes like Egypt, Libya, and Syria break up.

Anthony DiMaggio: The Rise of the Tea Party: Political Discontent and Corporate Media in the Age of Obama (paperback, 2011, Monthly Review Press): Seems right here to focus on the media. Previously wrote Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Examining American News in the "War on Terror", and co-wrote, with Paul Street, Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (paperback, 2011, Paradigm).

Thomas Byrne Edsall: The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics (2012, Doubleday): Author has written several useful books on the rise of the right, but he does have a tendency to be taken in by arguments he should be more skeptical of. There is a real scarcity problem creeping up in the future, and there's also a manufactured one, and we can use someone smarter than Edsall to sort them out. (Actually, I haven't yet read his suggestive early books, 1989's The New Politics of Inequality, and 1992's Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics, but probably should.)

Barry Estabrook: Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit (2011, Andrews McMeel): Lots of people -- my mother was one -- complain about industrialized tomatoes. Never bothered me that much, but I was never much of a tomato fan. Still, I am always intrigued by the industrial manipulation of agriculture, and this is certainly a case example.

Robin Fleming: Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise 400 to 1070 (2011, Penguin): Volume 2 of a Penguin History of Britain series, filling the gap between David Mattingly: An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, 54BC-AD 409 and David Carpenter: The Struggle for Mastery 1066-1284, both already out in paperback.

Robert H Frank: The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good (2011, Princeton University Press): Promotes Darwin as an economic thinker, contrasting him to Adam Smith. Hopefully this doesn't fall into the trap of 19th century Social Darwinism -- much depends on what he does with reference go "the common good" in the title.

William H Gass: Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts (2012, Knopf): Scattered literary essays by the philosopher-aesthete. I took a course from him once and came to regard him as an intellectual fraud, but he can turn a delicious phrase when he has a mind to.

Ronald J Glasser: Broken Bodies Shattered Minds: A Medical Odyssey From Vietnam to Afghanistan (paperback, 2011, History Publishing): Forty years of war, written by a doctor whose 365 Days is considered a classic on Vietnam, updated for Iraq and Afghanistan, which mostly means IEDs.

Michael Grabell: Money Well Spent? The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History (2012, PublicAffairs): I don't know about you, but I always have trouble believing any book that offers "Truth" in its title. This one's about the Obama stimulus program, which he inflates from $700 billion to $1 trillion, then attempts to dissect. As I understand it, his conclusion is that it didn't work as well as it should have less because it was too small -- which it was -- than because it was poorly designed -- which is also, uh, true.

Jonathan Gruber: Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works (paperback, 2011, Hill & Wang): Short book, illustrated, tries to walk through and explain the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act. Someone complained that this is Obama's propaganda disguised as information. Hmm, information -- don't have much of that to go on.

Max Hastings: Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 (2011, Knopf): The author is knocking out huge WWII books at a furious clip, with this 729 pp. one following Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945 and Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45, plus Winston's War: Churchill 1940-1945, almost as if this is the Reader's Digest edition. Meanwhile, one of his chief competitors, Ian Kershaw, has rewritten the Germany book as The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 (2011, Penguin Press).

Michael Hastings: The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan (2012, Blue Rider Press): Author interviewed Gen. Stanley McChrystal, supreme commander of US forces in Afghanistan, who made such an ass of himself he was sacked when the interview came out. Here, Hastings soldiers on, mopping up the rest of the US brass, their arguments over swank concepts that go nowhere on the ground.

Tony Judt/Timothy Snyder: Thinking the Twentieth Century (2012, Oxford University Press): Conversations between two historians, the senior Judt struck with ALS and filled with memories as well as expertise -- his Postwar itself covers a big part of the 20th century (Europe from 1945 to 2000). Looks like this rehashes a lot of subjects that came up in Judt's post-illness books. Billed as his last, this may be one to savor.

Geoffrey Kabaservice: Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (2012, Oxford University Press): Seems to be a history of the extinct moderate (and in some cases flat-out liberal) wing of the Republican Party, especially since the rise of Goldwater and Reagan threw them into disarray.

Michael Kranish/Scott Helman: The Real Romney (2012, Harper): I guess there is a real one, but that strikes me as a scary concept. Surprisingly few books about Romney at this point, given his prominence, but thus far there's this and a 2011 paperback by RB Scott: Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics -- well, also a few paranoid books on his Mormonism. Isn't the free market supposed to fix this dearth? Or is interest so low we have to say the market has cleared?

Frank Ledwidge: Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan (2011, Yale University Press): Unlike the truly token efforts of so many "coalition partners," the British chewed off a large enough chunk of these wars to fail on their own terms. That hasn't been widely reported, nor deeply analyzed, but I gather from this the failure was utter.

Rachel Maddow: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power (2012, Crown): Some sort of critique of the American military: overfunded, underregulated, possessing its own lobbying force allowing it to set direction relatively free of political concerns. Picturing this as simple "drift" seems too passive, as is the idea that correcting the "unmooring" solves the problem.

Suzanne Mettler: The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy (paperback, 2011, University of Chicago Press): Argues that one reason so many people are so confused about how government works is that policies and programs are often designed to be opaque, either to favor special interests or to undermine more general ones. She also wrote Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy, and Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation.

Michael Moore: Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life (2011, Grand Central Publishing): Memoir, focusing on vignettes rather than trying to connect the dots.

Charles Murray: Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (2012, Crown Forum): The last major racist in US social science, evidently starting to worry that white people are divided into rich and poor, and that this might threaten their racial solidarity against you know who. There is, of course, a problem at the root of this, but the only solution you get from racial solidarity is a state like Mississippi, which is no solution at all.

James Palmer: Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Death of Mao's China (2012, Basic Books): As Mao lay dying, the 1976 earthquake destroyed Tangshan, killing upwards of 500,000 people. Interesting to juxtapose those events, but we've seen from Katrina that nothing exposes the decrepitude of an inept, ideologically-bound regime like a natural disaster.

Trita Parsi: A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (2012, Yale University Press): Author of the essential history of Israel and Iran, Teacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States, brings the story up to date. Same story, too, with Israel fabricating complaints about Iran's nuclear program and trying to goad the US into launching an utterly stupid war. What's new was how easily Obama was suckered into such a course.

William Patry: How to Fix Copyright (2012, Oxford University Press): Senior copyright counsel at Google, which gives him a unique view, which may or may not be a good thing. Copyright as we know it both fails to provide adequate remuneration for those who produce unique works of art, fails to provide for fair use of those works, and fails to allow for economical distribution, so one should be able to do much better. But companies like Google could also do even worse, and practical change seems to be under the thumb of companies one way or another. Also see: Patricia Aufderheide: Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put the Balance Back in Copyright (paperback, 2011, University of Chicago Press); Marcus Boon: In Praise of Copying (2010, Harvard University Press); Lewis Hyde: Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership (2010; paperback, 2011, Farrar Straus & Giroux).

Dana Priest/William Arkin: Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (2011, Little Brown): And I thought the Old American Security State was scandalous. This one has "over 1,300 government facilities in every state in America; nearly 2,000 outside companies used as contractors; and more than 850,000 people granted 'Top Secret' security clearance."

Andrew Ross: Bird on Fire: Lessons From the World's Least Sustainable City (2011, Oxford University Press): Phoenix, Arizona; talk about sprawl. I have three cousins there: two live 40 miles apart, the third lives 70 miles from either of them. The city is in a desert, and its main water source isn't called the Salt River for nothing. And there's much more, much of it thanks to the right-wing political system. Also see: William Debuys: A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest (2011, Oxford University Press).

Douglas Rushkoff: Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age (paperback, 2011, Soft Skull Press): Interesting thinker who's managed to win awards named for Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman -- I first ran across his Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism which argues that the proper end point of Judaism is to wean people from belief in God -- tries to sort out the pluses and minuses of living through the internet.

Theda Skocpol/Vanessa Williamson: The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (2012, Oxford University Press): Probably one of the better surveys of the Tea Party outburst that gave right-wing media hacks so much to talk about during Obama's early presidency. I've read several books about it, but have yet to read a good account of who put up the money and greased the media. On the other hand, I've read plenty of interviews with nitwits.

Jonathan Steele: Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground (2011, Counterpoint): Billed as "the first account of Afghanistan's turbulent recent history by an independent eyewitness"; not sure about that, but Steele's book on Iraq was called Defeat: Why American and Britain Lost Iraq, so he's not one to readily swallow the latest spin. He's covered Afghanistan since 1981, so he easily sees the echoes between Russian and American tactics, and expects the same futility. There's also Edward Girardet: Killing the Cranes: A Reporter's Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan (2011, Chelsea Green), by another longtime journalist, also familiar with the Russian experience -- in fact, he wrote a book called Afghanistan: The Soviet War.

Rory Stewart/Gerald Knaus: Can Intervention Work? (2011, WW Norton): They mean, can global reaching imperial powers, specifically the US and UK, invade third world countries, install crony leaders, back them with military clout, interface with them using smarter-than-average diplomats like the authors, and claim any sort of success? Well, if you're willing to count Yugoslavia as a success, maybe, but that's harder to say for someplace like Afghanistan. Stewart has been an eloquent critic of US/UK policy in Afghanistan, but while he ultimately pulls his punches with the suggestion that smarter people, like himself, would have done better. Still, those smarter people, sensitive to the history and mores of regions, aren't the ones who invade and occupy, and their arguments that intervention can work quickly lose their conditions and provisos when adopted by the people who do, which implicitly makes them complicit in the disasters they rationalize.

Philip Taubman: The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb (2012, Harper): In case you're wondering: Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and Sidney Drell. I don't quite get it, but then they haven't been all that effective, even if that was their intent.

John Tirman: The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars (2011, Oxford University Press): How many civilians have American troops killed, or less directly caused to die, in America's foreign wars? Between 5 and 6 million in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq alone -- the ambiguity in the answer, vs. the precision with which we could US deaths, starts to suggest our nonchalance about the subject.

Bryan Glyn Williams: Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to American's Longest War (2011, University of Pennsylvania Press): Originally published by US Army "to provide an overview of the country's terrain, ethnic groups, and history for American troops," and "updated and expanded for the general public." Don't know whether that makes this propaganda -- probably some of that, but sounds to me like a tombstone.

Robin Wright, ed: The Iran Primer: Power, Politics, and US Policy (paperback, 2010, United States Institute of Peace Press): Fifty papers ("top-level briefings") on all aspects of Iran and its foreign relations, including pieces by such US insiders as Gary Sick, Richard Haas, Bruce Riedel, and Stephen Hadley. Looks like a lot of information, dry and succinct, on a topic where discussion is dominated by a lot of very ignorant people.

Daniel Yergin: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World (2011, Penguin Press): Wrote the standard history of the pre-OPEC oil era, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power. Since then he's mostly worked for the industry, shilling as a consultant, railing against the peak oil theory. Big book (804 pp.), probably a lot of useful history, just don't trust the guy any more.

I'll do a section on paperbacks next time. Don't really have it together right now.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Santorum Bobs Up

TPM: In WTF Territory?:

As they say, we're still really, really early. But we have 12% reporting in Missouri and Santorum is up over Romney by over 24 points. That's a big spread even with so few results. It's a similar margin in Minnesota, albeit with a meager 3%. If Romney loses 2 of 3 of these contests, what's the headline tomorrow morning?

Since you asked, the Wichita Eagle headline was: Santorum's victories shake up GOP race. But note that the headline was buried on Page 8A, just above "Greece, Bulgaria battle flooding" and "Russian envoy calls visit to Syria useful." Curious that the Eagle decided to give the story so little play, given that Kansas is a midwestern caucus state -- so the Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado races are more predictive here than any of the primaries so far -- and that Kansas is almost certain to favor Santorum. (In 2008 Huckabee carried the Kansas GOP caucuses by a huge margin even though McCain had already almost secured the nomination.) On the other hand, the Eagle is not a red meat paper, even if it trends somewhat to the right.

Santorum is actually the scariest of the Republican candidates, less because he's stupid and priggish than because he's an apocalyptic warmonger who wouldn't hesitate to think before starting a war with Iran. Still, nobody (but Ron Paul) has noticed that point, in part because Gingrich is almost exclusively backed by an Israel hawk, and Romney wishes he were. Alex Pareene wrote this (evidently before the caucuses):

Not that you should take any of this to mean that Santorum's good day (which has not yet happened and still may not actually happen) is indicative of anything other than a fickle minority of conservative voters drifting toward whomever was least recently savaged in the press and in attack ads. But if you note your favorite anti-Romney conservative pundits and bloggers rather suddenly talking a lot more about contraception and the gay agenda, don't be too surprised. Santorum's positions on these issues horrifies most Americans ("I will force rape victims to carry their pregnancies to term!" is not a general election winner), but most Americans don't vote in Missouri Republican primary elections.

Emphasis added for what strikes me as the key point: all of the Republican candidates are vulnerable to attack ads, so they bobble up and down depending on how much attention they get. Santorum won Iowa because everyone was focusing on Romney and Gingrich, and most wanted neither. He got beat down in New Hampshire, then ignored until now he finally seems less tawdry than Romney or Gingrich. But it won't take much to beat him back down to obscurity -- just money, which remains Romney's sole claim to fame.

Also in the Eagle today, one of their "Excerpts From Our Blog" titled "Chrysler ad about pulling together is controversial?":

Who would have thought that a positive television advertisement about pulling together would be so controversial? But some GOP operatives and pundits are complaining that the ad by Chrysler during the Super Bowl was political payback to President Obama for bailing out autocompanies. "It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising," former Bush administration political adviser Karl Rove said on Fox News. But actor Clint Eastwood, who narrated and appeared in the commercial, said that the ad wasn't about Obama. "It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America," Eastwood said. "I think all politicians will agree with it." Or they should.

No doubt Obama lucked out with Chrysler, which contributed nearly all of the growth in the latest industry figures: not that the plan itself was so daring or improbable, but because he finally resisted the advice of advisers like Austan Goolsbee to let the company die. (For me, the most shocking revelation in Ron Suskind's Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President was Goolsbee's argument that Chrysler should be sacrificed to help GM recover, and that Obama was initially swayed by Goolsbee.)

The unnamed operative quoted above is evidently Karl Rove. As Paul Krugman writes:

Nobody does hissy fits like Karl Rove; the master of hardball, dirty-trick politics is constantly outraged, outraged, at his opponents' underhanded tactics. And the latest hissy-target is the Chrysler ad during the Super Bowl, starring Clint Eastwood.

Jon Cohn gets it: it's actually a double-edged problem for the Republicans. They hate any reminder that they were dead wrong on the auto bailout; and they hate any thought that the Democrats are becoming the party of optimism. Hey, only Republicans are allowed to celebrate American success!

Much like only the Republicans are patriots, and only Republicans believe in traditional family values, only Republicans worship God, and only Republicans care about fiscal responsibility. I'm not very happy that Obama has decided to stake his reelection on being the one candidate who actually does follow those nostrums. I wouldn't be surprised if he finally gets some credit for it come November -- not just because the Republicans are so hypocritical on these counts but also because their self-righteousness has become so tiresome. And because they seem to take such perverse pleasure in doing what they can to tank the economy.

Coincidentally, I just read this in Thomas Frank's Pity the Billionaire: The Hard Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right (p. 20):

Never again, it has always been thought, would a hard-times president pine for balanced budgets in the Hoover manner or chase the illusion of stability represented by the gold standard. Nor would there be any audience for views like those of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who famously advised Hoover to "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate." Such actions, according to Mellon, "will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral ife. Values will be adjusted and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people." Mellon's advice reflected the orthodoxy of the day: let the downturn take its course, let the failures fail, let the weak be purged, and have confidence that the strong will emerge stronger than ever.

Mellon's idea was disastrous where it was tried and politically poisonous where it was spoken. It rightly followed Mellon into political oblivion. From the enlightened heights of 1954, it was possible for the economist John Kenneth Galbraith, in a passage about Mellon's famous advice, to declare that "a developing depression would not now be met with a fixed determination to make it worse."

But in 2009-12 the Republicans have done just that, and while the thinking is slightly less harsh than Mellon's, that's only because it's more muddled. (Frank's many quotes from Glenn Beck make plain the right's lust for punishing the economy's losers, but he still falls short of liquidating agribusiness.) What's unclear is whether Republican sabotage is driven by bad ideology or craven politics, since both are so obvious.

Also see Andrew Leonard on the Eastwood commercial, rubbing it in Rove's face.

Update: When I wrote the above, I hadn't yet noticed this piece by Ed Kilgore, You Have Not Suffered Enough, America:

Saturday Rich Yeselson wrote here about the moralistic strain in American politics that leads President Obama to limit proposals to help homeowners with underwater mortgages to those who have proved themselves "responsible" (not that easy to determine, actually, unless you think homebuyers on one side of the housing bubble were inherently more responsible than those on the other).

Housing aside, though, Paul Krugman puts his finger on a similar but broader phenomenon that is common in elite circles in this country: the belief that recessions, and particularly tight money, represent some sort of bracing, morally essential "purging" of evil spirits in the American psyche, reminding the great unwashed that they'd better keep their heads down and not get too irrationally exuberant. [ . . . ]

It's a habit that actually predates Mellon and Hoover, going back at least to the monetary policy batttles of the late nineteenth century, during which farmers starved for credit and suffering from chronically low prices were regularly accused of moral laxity.

The flip side of this syndrome, of course, is the tendency to believe that economic success and the ability to be a creditor instead of a debtor is a sign of strong moral fiber. Today's conservative lionization of "job creators" is an example; as is the constant baiting of relatively comfortable elderly people to resent younger and poorer people as parasites seeking to rob them of the resources their virtue has earned them.

The vast influence of non-moral factors, from inherited privilege to blind luck, in any one person's fortunes, particularly during a deep recession, seems lost on those who see some sort of divine hand in a pecking order that favors them. But it's a powerful inducement to the kind of policies that treat human suffering not only as deserved, but as good for the country.

Of course, it's remarkable how easy it is for people to think that policies that benefit themselves personally (even if only relative to other people) are "good for the country" -- especially given how little of the country people see beyond their immediate circles.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Music Week

Music: Current count 19410 [19377] rated (+33), 851 [847] unrated (+4). For many years now I've been doing a weekly count like the above, filing it in my online notebook but not bothering to post it on the blog. The numbers come from the database intro file: the big ones are how many records I've rated and the change from last week. The unrated are albums I have but haven't gotten to. That number shot way up to about 800 a few years ago when I bought a lot of closeout CDs. Since then I've mostly held even, so the backlog has remained fairly constant.

I think the average number of records rated per week is about 25. Any time I top 30 I figure I've put in a solid week's effort. The number might even approach 40 if all I do is Rhapsody. When the number drops below 20 something else is encroaching on my time. When it tops 40, something freaky has happened. I thought I'd start reporting this much in the blog, as well as unpacking and maybe some stray comments. I don't know what to say about Jazz Prospecting at this point, other than that once last week's music posts were done I did start delving into the jazz queue, and not knowing what else to do wrote some jazz prospecting notes in my scratch file. I imagine I'll share them somehow sooner or later, but don't know how or when yet. I will say that I'm mostly finding ordinary postbop -- often expertly done and enjoyable enough, but there's so much of it I barely notice it any more.

Unpacking: Found in the mail over the last week:

  • Eric Alexander & Vincent Herring: Friendly Fire (High Note): March 13
  • Ben Allison: Action-Refraction (Palmetto)
  • Terence Blanchard: Red Tails [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (Sony Classical)
  • Chloe Brisson: Blame It on My Youth (self-released)
  • Chris Brubeck's Triple Play: Live at Arthur Zankel Music Center (Blue Forest)
  • Adrian Cunningham: Walkabout (self-released)
  • Marshall Gilkes: Sound Stories (Alternate Side)
  • Guy Klucevsek: The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour (Innova)
  • Linda Lavin: Possibilities (Ghostlight)
  • Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Fluorescent (Pi): March 27
  • Tatsuya Nakatini/Kris Tiner/Jeremy Drake: Ritual Inscription (Epigraph): vinyl
  • Rod Picott: Welding Burns (Welding Rod)
  • Wallace Roney: Home (High Note): March 13
  • Marc Rossi Group: Mantra Revealed (Innova)
  • Mark Sherman: The L.A. Sessions (Miles High)
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear): February 28
  • Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts: An Attitude for Gratitude (Palmetto)


  • Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas (Columbia)

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans: Know What I Mean? (1961 [2011], Riverside/OJC): Starts with solo piano, then Adderley's alto sax enters in a warm rush; with Percy Heath and Connie Kay, who (unlike Paul Motian) wouldn't dream of tripping the leaders up: the result is that the oft-introspective pianist flows exuberantly -- needless to say, so does Cannonball. A- [Rhapsody]
  • Chet Baker: It Could Happen to You: Chet Baker Sings (1958 [2010], Riverside/OJC): Either you're touched by the poignant pathos in Baker's voice or repulsed; he has no range, scant command of nuance, and no tricks up his sleeve (other than his plaintive trumpet, rarely in evidence here), but for once he is utterly at ease with the melodies: try the bonus "You Make Me Feel So Young" -- probably cut from the original album because he sounds so skillful. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  • Tim Berne's Bloodcount: Poisoned Minds: The Paris Concert (1994 [1995], JMT): The second of three installments, running through two long pieces with many smaller sections, Berne's alto and baritone saxes entwined with Chris Speed's tenor or clarinet, while the guitar-bass-drums rhythm section hops all over the place. B+(*)
  • Tim Berne's Bloodcount: Memory Select: The Paris Concert (1994 [1995], JMT): Part trois, same group with Berne (alto and baritone sax), Chris Speed (tenor sax and clarinet), Michael Formanek (bass), Jim Black (drums), and Marc Ducret (guitar). Again, two long pieces. Again, the problem is that the often interesting music struggles to be heard through quiet patches that would have been clearer in person. B [Rhapsody]
  • Jim Black: Alasnoaxis (2000, Winter & Winter): Avant-drummer plugs in, with electric bass (Skuli Sverisson) and guitar (Hilmar Jensson), and Chris Speed on tenor sax or clarinet to smooth things out or rough them up. B+(***)
  • Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: Ugetsu (1963 [2011], Riverside/OJC): Live at Birdland, with one of Blakey's strongest lineups: Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, and Reggie Workman, stretched out on CD from 6 to 10 tracks; lots of energy, but the sound could be clearer, and they ramble a bit. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  • Ornette Coleman: Something Else!!!! (1958 [2011], Contemporary/OJC): With his white plastic alto sax, scratch tone, and knack for breaking the rules and making them work, Coleman's debut album portends the shape to come, but the piano has yet to make the break and seems out of place -- despite the impressive chops Walter Norris brings to the job; easy to underrate compared to what he did in the next two years, or to overrate it if you look for prophecy. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  • Miles Davis/Sonny Rollins: Dig (1951 [2011], Prestige/OJC): Davis's first album for Prestige, "featuring" Rollins -- released as a 10-inch at the time, reissued as an LP in 1956, with two bonus cuts added to the 1991 CD; he was 25 at the time, Rollins 21, and unherald Jackie McLean 19; basic bebop, most a dense thrash of rhythm with long, fast horn runs; the slower ones more articulate. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  • Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller, Vol. 1 (1992-96 [2011], Clone Classic Cuts): Detroit techno group, Gerald Donald and James Stinson, worked until Stinson died in 2002. This is the first of four planed compilations, picking through early EPs and singles, mostly with water themes. The electronics go blip, not much sustain or ambience, just picking out short and sweet themes, bouncing along. A- [Rhapsody]
  • The First Rock and Roll Record (1916-56 [2011], Famous Flames, 3CD): A-
  • Ella Fitzgerald/Oscar Peterson: Ella and Oscar (1975 [2011], Pablo/OJC): An inevitable pairing as Norman Granz tries to extend his old label magic into his new label; Peterson is personable as always, and Fitzgerald knows her songbook, but this doesn't quite mesh. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus (1962 [2010], Fantasy/OJC): Front cover has the hit song "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" in larger type than the title, and indeed the melody jumps right out at you; otherwise the piano trio's impressions make for minor pleasures, like the slightly oblique "Moon River." B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  • Larkin's Jazz (1925-59 [2011], Proper, 4CD): Philip Larkin was an English poet, 1922-85, enough of a celebrity that his adopted hometown, Kingston upon Hull, threw a festival in honor of the 25th anniversary of his passing. I can't speak to his poetry, but I read his very informal All What Jazz: A Record Diary as I was first starting to write about jazz myself, and found it most gratifying: at a time when virtually nothing I read about bebop (and Charlie Parker in particular) aligned with what I was hearing, Larkin's diffidence was a revelation. In the end, he turned out to be a better guide to the pre-bop jazz he favors than a critic of bop and post-bop, but he's not too shabby as long as the music doesn't get too ugly. Still, this compilation of favored tunes will cement his reputation as an old fogey. I probably shouldn't have snapped it up so quickly -- I doubt that there's anything here other than an Earl Bostic piece on the 4th disc that I didn't already own -- but score one for stirring up the pot. And while I would have preferred more swing -- he leans trad up through Bechet, Condon, and Pee Wee Russell but does acknowledge Goodman and Shaw (if not Jimmie Lunceford) -- everything here hits the spot: perhaps fittingly, none more than a trio of Billy Banks songs on the 2nd disc. A-
  • Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (1959 [2011], Riverside/OJC): Solo piano, something I've never got the hang of with Monk, probably because I expect that any pianist who would try such a thing must at least use both hands, preferably with a little extra on the left; the dissonances in Monk's original pieces create their own rhythm, especially on an opening "Blue Monk" that holds up especially well, but the most distinct thing about his covers is their simplicity. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  • Wes Montgomery: Boss Guitar (1963 [2010], Riverside/OJC): With Mel Rhyne on organ and Jimmy Cobb on drums, your basic Montgomery album with his sweet, slick guitar turned inward, not nearly as imposing as the title proposes. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  • Cal Tjader/Stan Getz: Sextet (1958 [2011], Fantasy/OJC): With Eddie Duran's guitar and Tjader's Latin vibes, this anticipates Getz's 1964 foray into bossa nova -- again, the sax seems lighter than air, floating away from the bubbly percussion and slinky guitar. B+(***) [R]

Expert Comments

Someone proposed a 25-deep greatest of all time poll:

A 25-deep GOAT list strikes me as too claustrophobic, although I will point out that a few years ago (looks like 2008) I posted a Moon list: http://goo.gl/7MrOo

To update it I'd have to add Lily Allen, Bruno Mars, Leonard Cohen's Live in London; swap the Franco comps; not sure what else, but probably not much. Trying to narrow it down would lose more info than it would gain. I'm already surprised by lots of things that aren't there.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Weekend Roundup

Some scattered links I squirreled away during the previous week:

  • Steve Benen: Monday's Mini-Report: You never hear about things like this happening on both sides of the partisan divide. The dirty work is always done for the side that likes to brag about "voting to kill":

    The race for the Arkansas' third congressional district took a gruesome turn on Sunday, when the campaign manager for Democratic challenger Ken Aden came home and found his cat slaughtered with the word "liberal" painted on the corpse.

Well, link: I have some more tabs open that I've been meaning to get to, but nothing that this perfectly sums up the culture of the Republican Party these days. Will try to be more constructive next, week, if not necessarily more upbeat.

Jazz CG(28) Flush

These are notes on jazz records prospected during the aborted Jazz CG(28) cycle (basically, the old bk-flush file). They are no longer considered prospects for a future Jazz CG/Blog (if, indeed, there is to be one):

  1. Rez Abbasi's Invocation: Suno Suno (2010 [2011], Enja): Guitarist, from Pakistan, eighth album since 1995, not counting his work with Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition -- a trio with Dan Weiss on drums that is expanded to five here, adding Vijay Iyer on piano and Johannes Weidenmueller on bass, only here the compositions are all Abbasi. The star power of Mahanthappa and Iyer is undeniable, but it comes off as unduly heavy, jerky, dramatic -- impressive in its own right. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  2. Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Roms: Spacer (2011, Delmark): Vibraphone player, based in Chicago, the one guy everyone out there goes to for the craft. Trio with Nate McBride (bass) and Mike Reed (drums). First-rate musicians, but the effort is a little thin all around. B+(*)
  3. Mario Adnet: More Jobim Jazz (2011, Adventure Music): Jobim orchestrated for a not-quite big band -- runs 7 to 11 pieces -- which clears up Jobim's characteristic lightness, adding not just density but sumptuous warmth. A sequel to Adnet's 2007 Jobim Jazz, with a Baden Powell tribute in the meantime. B+(*)
  4. Antonio Adolfo: Chora Baião (2010 [2011], AAM): Brazilian pianist, hard to say how important he is down there, but has recorded since 1969. I belatedly caught up with his 2010 Lá e Cá with daughter Carol Saboya and put it on my HM list. Saboya sings one song here, too, but these are mostly instrumentals, mostly choro or baião, uniformly nice and tasteful, nearly as ingratiating. B+(**)
  5. Afro Bop Alliance: Una Más (2010 [2011], OA2): Big band with extra Latin percussion: Roberto Quintero (congas) and Dave Samuels (vibes, marimba), otherwise pretty much the Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big band. Hot in spots, merely tepid in others; saved, I think, by Quintero. B+(*)
  6. Airto: Fingers (1973 [2011], CTI/Masterworks Jazz): Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira and wife Flora Purim cashed in on the 1960s bossa nova craze, then hooked up with Chick Corea's Return to Forever fusion band and fell into CTI's lap; this cooks all their affections down to an unrecognizable mish mash, clunky when he tries to sing, otherwise slick or airy or incoherent. B-
  7. Fabian Almazan Trio: Personalities (2011, Biophilia): Pianist, from Cuba, based in New York, first record. Ben Ratliff recently wrote him up as one of four young pianists doing innovative things, along with Kris Davis (whom I like a lot) and two others I hadn't heard of. The trio cuts, with Linda Oh on bass and Henry Cole on drums, offer an ambitious mix of postbop moves. Two more cuts add a string trio led by violinist Meg Okura, and they rub me the wrong way, especially the one written by someone named Shostakovich. B+(*)
  8. Amina Alaoui: Arco Iris (2010 [2011], ECM): Singer, from Fez, Morocco; has studied classical music traditions in Morocco and France, philosophy and linguistics, with interests straying as far as Persian classical music. Has a handful of albums. Focus here is on Andalusian music, including fado and flamenco, which was driven back to North Africa by the Spanish Reconquista. With violin, oud, guitar, mandolin, percussion. B+(**)
  9. Aimée Allen: Winters & Mays (2010 [2011], Azuline Music): Singer, wrote (or co-wrote with brother David Allen) 6 of 12 songs here (plus added lyrics to a Pat Metheny piece). From what little bio I've been able to piece together, studied at Yale, then got law degrees from Columbia and the Sorbonne in France. Two previous albums, one in French. Practices law by day and sings by night. Band includes Pete McCann on guitar (sauve and exceptionally tasty here), as well as piano, bass, and drums, plus Victor Prieto on accordion for three cuts. One Brazilian piece (Powell, de Moraes), nice percussion there. Some of the covers are striking -- she really digs into "Bye Bye Blackbird," for instance. The originals are harder to gauge, but she's smart, determined, and can make a point. B+(**)
  10. Geri Allen: A Child Is Born (2011, Motéma Music): Solo piano/organ/clavinet/Fender Rhodes, plus "vocal soundscape engineering and design" on one track, other voices on two more. Christmas music more or less, mostly attributed to Trad. with two originals added. Sometimes the mind drifts aimlessly, but it's hard to disguise pieces like "We Three Kings" and "Little Drummer Boy." B
  11. The Ames Room: Bird Dies (2010 [2011], Clean Feed): Sax trio, bills themselves as "minimal maximal terror jazz." Saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet is French, but bassist and drummer (Clayton Thomas and Will Guthrie) have suspiciously Anglo names. Second album, just one 48:20 staccato rumble, daring you to turn the volume up to see if you can discern any changes. I did, a little. B+(**)
  12. Eliane Amherd: Now and From Now On (2011, ELI): Guitarist-singer-songwriter, from Switzerland, based in New York. First album. Good voice. Nice beat. Didn't follow the songs, but the lyrics are in the booklet -- even the one non-original, from Tom Waits. B+(*)
  13. Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Sparks (2009 [2010], Carlo Music): Guitar-organ trio, with Apicella on guitar, Dave Mattock on organ, and Alan Korzin on drums. Second album. He's studied with Dave Stryker, but he's basically a Grant Green guy -- wrote 3 of 8 tunes, covering Green, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lou Donaldson, Steve Cropper/Don Covay, and Michael Jackson -- he's a lightweight, but the latter was tastier than anything on Joey DeFrancesco's Jackson tome. Five cuts add Stephen Riley on tenor sax, to little effect. Two cuts add a violinist (John Blake or Amy Bateman), and that's something worth exploring further. B
  14. Christian Artmann: Uneasy Dreams (2010-11 [2011], self-released): Flute player, based in New York, for biographical background about all he says is that he was "raised on a heavy dose of Bach in Germany and Austria," and that he's studied at Berklee, Frankfurter Musikwertstatt, Princeton, and Harvard Law. Second album, with bass and drums, piano on most cuts, voice (Elena McEntire) on three, percussion on three. No label, but his artwork and packaging are very nice. Mostly original pieces, some short free improvs. I'm no flute fan, but he has an approach that I can't pigeonhole into any of the obvious styles, including the one for folks who grew up on too much Bach. B+(**)
  15. Artswest: The Vocal Jazz Collective: Redefintiion (2009 [2010], OA2): ArtsWest is some kind of organization in Seattle: produces events, runs a theater company and an art gallery, offers education although I'm not sure you can call it a school, is "a community center and economic attractor." Jeff Baker, who has a few vocal jazz albums of his own, is Director of Vocal Music, and the Vocal Jazz Collective is a set of vocalists including 13-year-old Andrew Coba, who doesn't have a lead here but is somewhere in the choir -- not clear that the others are much older. The band is made up of Seattle all-stars including Brent Jensen on sax and Thomas Marriott on trumpet, arranged by pianist Justin Nielsen. Singers Camille Avery, LeAnne Robinson, Georgia Sedlack, Cari Stevens, Fara Sumbureru, Karmen Wolf, Harris Long, and Mary Thompson get one or two standards each. Good band -- the instrumental breaks are all expert. None of the singers are especially memorable, but overall this is surprisingly pleasant. B
  16. AsGuests: Universal Mind (2010 [2011], Origin): Basically a duo -- Michal Vanoucek (piano) and Miro Herak (vibes) -- although they also perform as a quartet with bass and drums, and here they add strings (violin, viola, cello). Vanoucek is from Slovakia, b. 1977; I've run into him before. Herak is from the Czech side but is based in Slovakia. Has a fancy chamber jazz feel, speeding up with the vibes chime in. B+(*)
  17. Pablo Aslan Quintet: Piazzolla in Brooklyn and the Rebirth of Jazz Tango (2011, Soundbrush): The official birth of jazz tango was announced in 1959 by new tango composer Astor Piazzolla, living at the time in New York and recording a record called Take Me Dancing with a jazz quintet. Piazzolla himself considered the record "dreadful" but Aslan, an Argentine bassist based in Brooklyn who over the last decade has produced the best jazz tango albums ever, decided to give it another shot. Aslan added an extra Piazzolla tune to the seven plus two covers from the album ("Laura," "Lullaby of Birdland"). For the group, he went back to Buenos Aires -- Gustavo Bergalli (trumpet), Nicolas Enrich (bandoneon), Abel Rogantini (piano), and Daniel "Pipi" Piazzolla (drums, Astor's grandson). I don't have the original album to compare to, but I don't doubt that Aslan has managed to pep it up. Still, feels a bit compressed. B+(**)
  18. Albert Ayler: Love Cry/The Last Album (1967-69 [2011], Impulse): Tenor saxophonist, was a major avant-garde figure in the mid-1960s, finding spiritual depth in frenzied free noise, but as the decade came to a close he became increasingly scattered, then died at age 34 in 1970, a suicide or a victim of murder or bad luck, no one knows.
    Love Cry (1967-68): Mostly repeated riff pieces with his brother Donald Ayler, no one's idea of a first-rate trumpet player. B
    The Last Album (1969): Hard to figure, coming out a year before his unexpected death. Opens with an oblique guitar solo by Henry Vestine finally joined by Ayler on bagpipes, then you get Mary Maria Parks's spoken word interplay with the saxophonist, then some vintage sounding free sax, then more oddities. The songs are all credited to Parks, his girlfriend at the time. Could find a future in the guitar-sax duet on "Toiling," or Ayler's own past in the bass-sax duet on "Water Music," but falls off the deep end with vocals like "Desert Blood." B
  19. Mike Baggetta Quartet: Source Material (2010 [2011], Fresh Sound New Talent): Guitarist, based in New York. Third album with his name first, plus three duos with Kris Tiner -- one with Tiner's name first, two as Tin/Bag. Quartet includes Jason Rigby on "saxophones" (pictured on soprano, also plays tenor), Eivind Opsvik on bass, and George Schuller on drums. B+(**)
  20. Baloni: Fremdenzimmer (2010 [2011], Clean Feed): Trio: Joachim Badenhorst (bass clarinet, clarinet, tenor sax), Frantz Loriot (viola), and Pascal Niggenkemper (double bass). Don't think I've ever run across Loriot before, but he is central here, setting the tone and dynamics, and when he decides to whine and mourn no one else can break free. B+(*)
  21. Rahsaan Barber: Everyday Magic (2010 [2011], Jazz Music City): Saxophonist (tenor, alto, soprano, also flute), teaches at Belmont U. in Nashville; second album. Calls his group Everyday Magic -- Adam Agati (guitar), Jody Nardone (piano), Jerry Navarro (bass), and Nioshi Jackson (drums) -- and adds a couple guests. His tenor is strong and full-toned, and he gets some funk out of the guitar-piano combo without compromising his postbop cred. The other horns slack off a bit. B+(*)
  22. John Basile: Amplitudes (2011, StringTime Jazz): Guitarist, b. 1955 in Boston, ninth album since 1986. Solo, plugged his guitar into an iPhone, some kind of "app," and ProTools with "no amps and some digital plug in effects." One original, mostly standards (including one Jobim), covers of tracks by John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner. B+(*)
  23. Stefano Battaglia Trio: The River of Anyder (2009 [2011], ECM): Pianist, b. 1965 in Milan, has 30 albums since 1986, four on ECM -- two early ones tied explicitly to Bill Evans. Has a knack for impressing me without offering a hook on which to hang a review. B+(**)
  24. The Return: The Gerry Beaudoin Trio With Harry Allen (2011, Francesca): Guitarist, AMG lists seven previous albums going back to 1992 but doesn't have this one, which may be digital only. Has a very light touch in a trio with bass and drums, doing eight tracks, none of which I recognize as standards. Tenor saxophonist Allen tries his best to fit in, which mostly means toning himself down to near invisiblity. B [Rhapsody] [later: B+(**)]
  25. Bob Belden: Miles Español: New Sketches of Spain (2011, Entertainment One, 2CD): Only got an advance so I'm not sure how this is packaged. I filed it under Bob Belden ("conceived and produced by"), in large part because it seems like his kind of thing, although his only other credit is percussion/marimba on one track. I cribbed the credit list (36 musicians) from the hype sheet, which misspelled names, often omitted instruments, and was inconsistent between specifying percussion instruments and grouping them together. Most players only show up for 1-3 tracks (out of 16), with percussionist Alex Acuña way out front (10 tracks), followed by Sammy Figueroa (6). This remakes 4 of 5 titles from Sketches of Spain (omits "Will o' the Wisp," and smashes "Saeta" and "Pan Piper" into one track); adds two loosely related Miles Davis pieces ("Flamenco Sketches," "Teo/Neo"); and picks up extra pieces, mostly from its guest stars (Rabih Abou-Khalil, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Niño Joseles, Jorge Pardo, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Scofield). Four of the pieces go orchestral (flutes and bassoon and such, Abou-Khalil's oud and Edmar Castañeda's harp the only strings); the others stick with small groups, leaning a bit too much on piano, but otherwise the whole thing hangs together and flows. A step toward "jazz repertory," if that interests you. B+(**) [advance]
  26. Dee Bell: Sagacious Grace (1990 [2011], Laser): Singer, b. 1950 in Fort Wayne, IN; cut a couple records for Concord 1983-85, but nothing since until now. This session was shelved for technical reasons but has finally been cleaned up and dedicated to her late pianist Al Plank. Standards, including a couple jazz tunes Bell wrote lyrics to. Band includes John Stowell on guitar, and (even better) Houston Person on tenor sax. B+(*)
  27. Stephane Belmondo: The Same as It Never Was Before (2011, Sunnyside): Trumpet/flugelhorn player (also credited with bass trumpet and shells), b. 1967 in France. Second album, quartet with Kirk Lightsey (piano), Sylvain Romano (bass), and Billy Hart (drums). Wrote about half of the pieces, drawing one from Lightsey, others from Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder, also "Everything Happens to Me." B+(**)
  28. George Benson: Guitar Man (2011, Concord): Guitarist, was so dedicated to Wes Montgomery that he worked Boss Guitar into his first album title, but by the early 1970s had slid into light shlock and in 1976 scored a breakthrough hit with his undistinct vocals. I wrote him off long ago, but I've gotten a few of his recent records -- for some reason this is the only one Concord serviced me with in 2011, and this is the least awful of the last three. For one thing, only three vocals, and his Stevie Wonder impersonation is so uncanny he gets away with "My Cherie Amour"; for another, he takes two cuts solo, and he still has that sweet touch, even on something as moldy as "Danny Boy." On the other hand, his funk isn't even fake, and the best you can say for his string-drenched "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is that the melody is unrecognizable. B-
  29. David Berkman: Self-Portrait (2011, Red Piano): Pianist, b. 1958, sixth album since 1998 -- the inevitable solo one. Mix of standards, starting with "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and originals, four of them designated sketches. Self-assured, balanced tone, runs on cold logic, impeccable as these things go. B+(**)
  30. Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: MTO Plays Sly (2011, Royal Potato Family): A small big band based on pre-Basie models with a postmodern twist -- trumpet (Bernstein), trombone (Curtis Fowlkes), three reeds (Doug Weiselman, Peter Apfelbaum, Erik Lawrence), guitar/banjo (Matt Munisteri), violin (Charles Burnham), bass (Ben Allison), drums (Ben Perowsky) -- has gigged regularly for over a decade but this is just their third album. Eleven Sly Stone songs (counting "Que Sera Sera") with guest vocals, two "Sly Notions" instrumentals, a "Bernie Worrell Interlude": the covers offer more horns but don't stray far from the originals, mostly adding weight (which tends to be the case 40 years down the road). Worrell, Vernon Reid, and Bill Laswell help out; of the singers Dean Bowman is the most Sly-like, and Shilpa Ray the slyest. Fun, of course, but I don't hear it either stepping back or moving forward. B+(**) [advance]
  31. Dan Blake: The Aquarian Suite (2011, Bju'ecords): Saxophonist (doesn't specify further), based in New York. Has a previous, self-released record called The Party Suite. This is a two-horn quartet, with Jason Palmer on trumpet, Jorge Roeder on bass, and Richie Barshay on drums. Vigorous, expansive postbop, grabs you at high speed, loses a bit when they slow it down. B+(**)
  32. Art Blakey: Jazz Messengers!!!!!/A Jazz Message (1961-63 [2011], Impulse): The prime drummer of the bebop movement started playing harder in the 1950s and invented hard bop, running his Jazz Messengers as a boot camp through which everyone who was anyone in the style passed, from Horace Silver to Wynton Marsalis. Only cut these two albums on Impulse.
    Jazz Messengers!!!!! (1961): Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Curtis Fuller, Bobby Timmons, Jymie Merritt -- possibly the greatest of all Blakey groups in what was certainly their banner year. Still, this feels like something Blue Note passed on -- not off by much, but Shorter doesn't shake off Morgan's solos, and the closer never quite engages. B+(***)
    A Jazz Message (1963): How quickly they fall: down to a Quartet, but Sonny Stitt is blazing out of the box, McCoy Tyner takes his blues to another level, and standards as standard as "Summertime" and "The Song Is You" are exceptional. A-
  33. Bobby Bradford/Mark Dresser/Glenn Ferris: Live in LA (2009 [2011], Clean Feed): Cornet, bass, trombone respectively. Bradford, b. 1934, has a long, and relatively unheralded, avant-garde career -- I've missed virtually all of it myself, including his famous work with John Carter. Ferris I know even less about: b. 1950 in Los Angeles; played early on with Don Ellis, Harry James, and Frank Zappa; has six albums since 1995, mostly on Enja; goes back a long ways with Bradford. With bass but no drums, this takes its time getting anywhere, wallowing in murky depths, which seems to be the point. B+(**)
  34. Randy Brecker with DR Big Band: The Jazz Ballad Song Book (2010 [2011], Red Dot Music): Also with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, who get smaller type on the cover and mostly lurk in the background, like an ugly set of drapes. The DR Big Band is a polished unit with some players -- especially in the reed section -- who can dish out an impressive solo. But Brecker takes most of the solos, and everythign else amounts to little more than a fancy frame around his trumpet. B+(*)
  35. Wolfert Brederode Quartet: Post Scriptum (2010 [2011], ECM): Pianist, b. 1974 in the Netherlands. AMG lists four albums, most likely too few; his website shows 20, many under other names (especially vocalist Susanne Abbuehl). Quartet includes Claudio Puntin (clarinets), Mats Eilertsen (double bass), and Samuel Rohrer (drums). Originals, including one each from Rohrer and Puntin, three from Eilertsen. Very pretty, not quite lush. B+(**)
  36. Zach Brock: The Magic Number (2010 [2011], Secret Fort): Violinist, b. 1974 in Lexington, KY. Third album since 2005, not counting a couple EPs. Quartet with bass, drums, and extra percussion, with some vocal exuberance toward the end. Poised with some swagger, pushes the violin up front and makes it sing. B+(**)
  37. Rob Brown/Daniel Levin: Natural Disorder (2008 [2010], Not Two): Brown plays brashly free alto sax, b. 1962, best known as a key to William Parker's pianoless quartet; has more than a dozen albums under his own name since 1989, mostly on obscure labels. Levin plays cello, b. 1974, has been prolific since 2003 with nine albums (on Clean Feed and Hat). Duo. Often engaging, especially when the cello pitches in, but a long stretch of solo alto wears thin. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  38. Katie Bull: Freak Miracle (2009 [2011], Innova): Singer, from and based in New York, has at least three previous albums since 2000. Has plaudits on her website from Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan. She takes similar liberties with her material -- mostly self-written, but the covers show her attack more clearly. Joe Fonda (bass) and Harvey Sorgen (drums) are longstanding band members; Jeff Lederer plays tenor and soprano sax and clarinet; piano is divided between Landon Knoblock and Frank Kimbrough. B+(*)
  39. Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran: Cuban Rhapsody (2011, ALMA): Duets, with Cuban pianist Duran and longtime Cubanophile, Canadian soprano saxophonist/flutist Bunnett -- her first Cuban-themed album was Spirits of Havana in 1991 and she's never let up. She plays more flute here but I much prefer her soprano. Seems a bit spare with no percussion, although Duran certainly knows his stuff. B+(*)
  40. Greg Burk Trio: The Path Here (2009 [2011], 482 Music): Pianist, originally from Michigan, moved to Slovakia after graduation, based in Rome now. Has a dozen albums since 2000. This one is a piano trio, with Jonathan Robinson on bass, Gerald Cleaver on drums, with a couple curves -- Burk plays washint (a wooden flute from Ethiopia) on one piece, Robinson some thumb piano. Both are variations I could enjoy more of, but the piano-bass-drums is typically bright, sharp, reflective. B+(**)
  41. Kenny Burrell: Tenderly: Solo Guitar Concert (2009 [2011], High Note): Eighty-year-old guitarist (must have been 78 at the time), recapitulates a career that took off in the late 1950s, sticking close to his craft and not complicating it by having to work/compete with other musicians. Centerpiece is his "Ellingtonia Montage," much like how Ellington Is Forever sits on the pinnacle of his discography. No surprise that it runs slow or that two-thirds through he announces his intent to play "quieter," but by then he's probably hooked you. B+(**)
  42. The New Gary Burton Quartet: Common Ground (2011, Mack Avenue): What's new about this Quartet, as opposed to the one he recorded a live album with in 2009, is replacing guitarist Pat Metheny and bassist Steve Swallow with Julian Lage and Scott Colley: younger players, most likely cheaper too, plus they contribute songs, so the leader is down to one in ten. (Drummer Antonio Sanchez, who pitched in two songs, was kept over.) Probably a smart move for Burton, but not as smart as letting Lage take the lead, and adding a little something instead of vying for top dog. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  43. Buzz Bros Band: Ppff Unk (2009 [2011], Buzz Music): Dutch group, led by guitarist Marnix Busstra, with his brother Berthil Busstra on keyboards, Frans Van Geest on double bass, and Chris Strik on drums, with "special guest" Simone Roerade singing two songs. Founded in 2001, as near as I can figure out they have two albums and some DVDs. I've run into Marnix before, on a couple of pretty good albums with vibraphonist Mike Mainieri. The keyb/guitar mix here is often quite sweet, with or without any noticeable funk quotient. B
  44. Jackie Cain & Roy Kral: A Wilder Alias (1973 [2011], CTI/Masterworks Jazz): More often just Jackie & Roy, singer and pianist-vocalist-arranger, started out in 1954 and had been around the block a couple times before CTI picked them up; I don't know them well enough to tell how anomalous this is, but the voices are lashed to the contours of some incredibly loopy music, with Joe Farrell's sax the sole relief, the flute and vibes solos faring far less well. C-
  45. Michael Cain: Solo (2011, Native Drum Music): Pianist, b. 1966, AMG lists seven albums since 1990 (but missed this one, and who knows what else). Google really wanted to dispatch me off to some British actor. Solo piano and a bit of electronics: slow, gentle, has some appeal. B+(*)
  46. Uri Caine Trio: Siren (2011, Winter & Winter): Piano trio, with John Hébert on bass and Ben Perowsky on drums. I'm not much good at describing piano trios -- wish I had a booklet to crib from, or at least get some orientation -- but Caine is a superb jazz pianist (except when he's playing classical music, and sometimes even that's pretty good), very fast here. B+(***) [Rhapsody]
  47. Brent Canter: Urgency of Now (2010 [2011], Posi-Tone): Guitarist, from Los Angeles, studied under Kenny Burrell, moved to New York. Second album, previous self-released. Organ quartet, with Adam Klipple or Pat Bianchi on organ, Seamus Blake on tenor sax, and Jordan Perlson on drums. Guitar stands out, but the framework is pretty conventional, and the only surprise with Blake is how little he brings to the party. B
  48. Frank Carlberg: Uncivilized Ruminations (2011, Red Piano): Pianist, from Finland, AMG lists nine albums since 1992 but that's probably short. Album packaging is sort of a slate gray with white (and light orange) type on it, which my eyes are nowhere near up to deciphering. The music is kind of like that too: I've heard enough to want to move on, but there is a lot of subtle contrasts in the mix: two superb saxophonists in John O'Gallagher and Chris Cheek, the invaluable John Hébert on bass, Michael Sarin on drums, and Christine Correa on vocals. I often can't stand Correa's opera voice, but this time it seems to fit naturally into the overall jumble. B+(**)
  49. William Carn's Run Stop Run (2011, Mythology): Trombonist, b. 1969, from Canada. First album, although AMG lists a few dozen side credits. Quartet, with guitars (Don Scott), basses (Jon Maharaj), and drums (Ethan Ardelli). Both Scott and Maharaj contribute songs, as does producer David Binney. B+(*)
  50. Terri Lyne Carrington: The Mosaic Project (2011, Concord): Drummer, b. 1965, two 2002-04 postbop records seemed promising -- especially the second with Greg Osby -- but her 2009 More to Say was such soggy R&B that I dumped her into my pop jazz file. However, this one has gotten so many raves that I thought I should check it out. She makes use of 20 musicians, all female, most well known (e.g., horns: Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Tineke Postma; keybs: Geri Allen, Patrice Rushen, Helen Sung; the eight vocalists include Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nona Hendryx, Carmen Lundy, Gretchen Parlato, Diane Reeves, and Cassandra Wilson; also credited with "commentary": Angela Davis). Several brought their own songs; Carrington wrote 5 of 14, with Irving Berlin, Al Green, and Lennon-McCartney the outsiders. The horn solos always come up with something interesting, the keybs lean to fusion but aren't swallowed by it, the vocals are, well, credible. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  51. Bill Carrothers Trio: A Night at the Village Vanguard (2009 [2011], Pirouet, 2CD): Pianist, b. 1964 in Minneapolis, has more than a dozen albums since 1992, mostly trios, one from 2005 called Shine Ball that I especially liked (possibly because it's the one he played prepared piano on). This is another trio, with Nicholas Thys on bass and Dré Pallemaerts on drums, the same group he recorded Swing Sing Songs with ten years earlier. A disc for each set that night, both sets starting off with Clifford Brown songs, winding up with about half originals. Not so clear at my usual volume levels; cranking it up helped with the definition, but I still can't come up with much to say. B+(*)
  52. Ron Carter: Ron Carter's Great Big Band (2010 [2011], Sunnyside): At one point, Morton & Cook (The Penguin Guide) went through their big book counting names and concluded that the guy who had appeared on the most albums was bassist Ray Brown, with just over 300. I did a pretty comprehensive discography of William Parker a while back and saw that he was closing in on 300 -- he's probably topped it now, although not all of those albums would appear in any given edition of The Penguin Guide. I've never tried that with Ron Carter, but I've read claims that he's played on over 1000 albums. That's hard to grasp but it's not inconceivable (figure 25 per year for 40 years). He's certainly played on a lot -- I don't think I saw a single one of the recent CTI reissues that he didn't play on. He even has a lot more under his own name than I expected: AMG lists 53, but I've only picked up five. I've always found him tough to figure, sometimes tempted to view him as someone just fortunate to be in the right places -- above all Miles Davis's late-1960s quintet -- at the right time, but every now and then I hear something from him that makes me wonder if he really isn't one of the foremost bassists of his generation. This record doesn't settle anything. I think he means us to parse the title as "(great) (big band)" rather than "(great big) (band)" -- he's only an English horn over a standard weight, and doesn't have a guitar. But most of the musicians are names you'll recognize. He wrote 2 of 13 pieces, picked most of the rest from the bebop generation (Gillespie, Stitt, Mulligan, Lewis, Nat Adderley, Shorter, with nods to Ellington, Handy, and Sy Oliver. Lays out plenty of solos for his stars. It's all very neat, just not quite enough to bow you over. B+(**)
  53. Ernesto Cervini Quartet: There (2010 [2011], Anzic): Drummer, b. 1982, grew up in Toronto, studied there and at Manhattan School of Music, based in New York. Second album -- first was titled Here. Quartet: Joel Frahm (saxophones), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Dan Loomis (bass). Mainstream group, swings, most impressive when Frahm takes charge -- especially on tenor, but he's earned the right to play soprano as well -- and the group, notably the pianist, keeps up. Recorded live at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club, so everyone gets their solo space. B+(**)
  54. Cinque: Catch a Corner (2011, ALMA): I filed this under organ player Joey DeFrancesco, but closer examination would have given it to bassist-producer-arranger Peter Cardinali -- the songs are attributed to the group (with Robi Botos on piano/fender rhodes, John Johnson on saxes, and Steve Gadd on drums) except for two covers at the end, one each from Cedar Walton and Paul Simon: "Still Crazy After All These Years" -- they wish. B
  55. Gerald Cleaver/Uncle June: Be It as I See It (2010 [2011], Fresh Sound New Talent): Drummer, from Detroit, has a half dozen albums since 2001. No idea where the group name comes from, but it's basically a sextet with two horns (Andrew Bishop on flute, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor sax; Tony Malaby on soprano and tenor sax), piano (Craig Taborn), viola (Mat Maneri), and bass (Drew Gress), with occasional voices and a bit of guest guitar or banjo. Can be rough and noisy, smoky, or stretch out into an orchestration that is almost Ellingtonian. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  56. Cloning Americana: For Which It Stands (2010 [2011], Sunnyside): Postbop quartet, principally saxophonist Billy Drewes and bassist Scott Lee who split the writing chores (score 8-to-4 for Drewes, with one joint piece, plus one by pianist Gary Versace, none from drummer Jeff Hirshfield). Slippery modern postbop, with a message at the end sung tentatively by Drewes, concluding "We are all one." Back cover explains: "The above narrative is in response to the apparent decline in the basic social values of respect, compassion, and tolerance. Too many of those entrusted with the honorable task of promoting and sustaining these values are failing us, causing unnecessary inequality and suffering." Amen. B+(**)
  57. Avishai Cohen: Seven Seas (2010 [2011], Sunnyside): Bassist, b. 1970 in Israel, has a dozen albums since 1998, establishing himself as a superb composer, adding electric bass to his acoustic, even plays piano on two cuts here, and often working with oud (Amos Hoffman here, also credited with electric guitar) suggesting a more open Middle Eastern dialogue. Cut in Sweden with a lot of guys whose names end in "sson" -- plus Jimmy Greene on soprano and tenor sax, Shai Maestro on piano, and Itamar Doari on percussion. I could do with fewer vocal passages -- booklet provides trots for three short songs, and there are choral background passages -- the instrumental passages are powerfully evocative. B+(**)
  58. Emmet Cohen: In the Element (2010 [2011], BadaBeep): Young pianist -- 20 on the cover and 21 on his website -- won third prize in this year's Monk competition. Debut album, mostly trio, with Greg Gisbert joining on trumpet for four cuts. Postbop, pretty much what talented young pianists do these days. B
  59. Freddy Cole: Talk to Me (2011, High Note): Crooner, b. 1931 but didn't get going until 1990 with an album that pleaded I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me. Twenty-some albums later, 50+ years after brother Nat died, coming off his best two albums ever, he hardly needs an introduction. Still, he takes a batch of obscure songs -- two Bill Withers tunes and "Mam'selle" are the only ones I recognize -- at a very leisurely pace, dressing them up with Harry Allen's tenor sax and Terell Stafford's flugelhorn; could hardly be smoother, or grab you more gently. B+(**)
  60. Cecilia Coleman Big Band: Oh Boy! (2010 [2011], PandaKat): Pianist, b. 1962 in Long Beach, CA; based in New York, although she teaches part-time at Cal State Long Beach. Seventh album since 1992; first with a big band (six reeds, standard brass, piano, bass, and drums) -- a few names I recognize, but not many. Wrote all the pieces. Contemporary postbop, well orchestrated but doesn't stand out either in the solos or the crispness of the section work. B+(*)
  61. Alice Coltrane: Universal Consciousness/Lord of Lords (1971-72 [2011], Impulse): Originally Alice McLeod, from Detroit, played piano with Terry Gibbs before marrying John Coltrane in 1965, soon replacing McCoy Tyner in her husband's group, until his death in 1967. Her own discography starts up in 1968, a dense flurry of records up to 1978 followed by a long break and a 2004 comeback.
    Universal Consciousness (1971): Her main instruments were dense organ and celestial harp, rounded out with a violin trio including Leroy Jenkins. Parts develop a spritely avant-garde feel, but the density leaves you conscious less of the universe than its sheer mass. B
    Lord of Lords (1972): With Charlie Haden, Ben Riley, and twenty-two strings, Coltrane's classical training finally wins out -- the one cover is a slice from Stravinsky's Firebird. B-
  62. Come Sunday: Crosscurrents (2011, self-released): Vocal group -- Bill Brickey, Lindsay Weinberg, Alton Smith, Sue Demel -- backed by guitar, bass, and drums, assuming the name of the Duke Ellington song -- they also cite Thomas Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson as inspirations. Thirteen gospel pieces, eight by trad. Best news here is that Stevie Wonder's "Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away" has entered the canon, but I'd much rather hear Wonder do it. B-
  63. Marc Copland/John Abercrombie: Speak to Me (2011, Pirouet): Piano-guitar duets, both long-time masters with a history of playing together -- I quickly found their Contact album in my HMs, but that was fleshed out with Dave Liebman, bass, and drums. In my note I talked about "each working their discreet charms." Here, without the rhythmic propulsion and the commanding voice of a harm, a better word would be "discrete." B+(*)
  64. Chick Corea/Stefano Bollani: Orvieto (2010 [2011], ECM): Two pianists, nothing else, recorded live at Umbria Jazz Winter 2010. Mostly standards, including two Jobims and "Jitterbug Waltz," plus two stabs at the title improv. I have even more trouble with piano duos than solos -- at least it's clear who's doing what in them -- and there's not enough clash here to convince me that both are playing. B
  65. Patrick Cornelius: Maybe Steps (2010 [2011], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, from San Antonio, studied at Berklee, based in New York. Fourth (or fifth) album since 2001. Quintet with piano (Gerald Clayton), guitar (Miles Okazaki), bass (Peter Slavov), and drums (Kendrick Scott). Wrote 9 of 11 songs (covers Kurt Weill and George Shearing). Those are all strong players, but little things nag at me, like the alto tone at high speed. B+(*)
  66. Corrie en de Grote Brokken: Vier! (1997-2004 [2011], Brokken): Dutch guitarist Corrie van Binsbergen released this to mark her 25th anniversary, but the sampler narrows in on a relatively short stretch with a big, brassy band -- trumpet, trombone, typically three saxes, vibes or marimba, fronted by singers Bob Fosko and Beatrice van der Poel. Lots of flashy guitar, most of it closer to rock than to jazz, but knowing nonethless -- I'm reminded of some of Roy Wood's early-1070s stabs at neoclassic rock and roll, but the vibes suggest Zappa if only I'd paid him any heed. B+(**)
  67. Larry Coryell: With the Wide Hive Players (2010 [2011], Wide Hive): One of the original fusion guitarists -- by the way, the answer to my question about Gary Burton's earliest quartet -- plugs in with the avant-funk house band of Gregory Howe's Berkeley label. Sax and 'bone flesh out the heavy riffing. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  68. Yamandu Costa/Hamilton de Holanda: Live! (2008 [2011], Adventure Music): Brazilian duets. Costa plays 7-string guitar, has at least eight albums since 2004, but this is the first I've heard; de Holanda plays 10-string mandolin, has at least ten albums, a natural pick once bluegrass mandolinist Mike Marshall took a major interest in choro and launched this label. The two string instruments mesh like classical chamber music, the attack more pronounced, mostly fast and furious. B+(*)
  69. François Couturier: Tarkovsky Quartet (2009 [2011], ECM): Pianist, b. 1950 near Orléans, France; background in classical music. AMG lists five albums since 2002. Has lately been drawing on the filmmaker Andreï Tarkovsky (1932-86) for inspiration. Quartet includes Jean-Marc Larché (soprano sax), Anja Lechner (cello), and Jean-Louis Matinier (accordion). B+(*)
  70. Coyote Poets of the Universe: Pandora's Box (2011, Square Shaped): Denver group, fifth album since 2003; I figure them as a rock group with some jazz and world instruments -- Patty Shaw's saxes, Mark Busi's djembe and bongos, some fiddles, banjo, an oboe or flute -- and some spoken poetry although mostly Melissa Ingalls' vocals. I recall last time writing Christgau to recommend a choice cut. This time that would be "Quittin' Time" with its Lester Young namecheck and cover note: "adult language on this track," or as my friend Arthur translates, redeeming social content. B+(*)
  71. Shirley Crabbe: Home (2011, MaiSong): Standards singer, studied at Northwestern and Manhattan School of Music. First album. Has a full-featured band including Brandon Lee on trumpet, Dave Glasser on sax, and Donald Vega on piano -- but even with Glasser on hand she wrangled Houston Person for two guest shots (his "Lucky to Be Me" solo a highlight). Songs jump around, ranging from "Summertime" to Sondheim and Carole King ("Far Away"). On the right song she can be very striking -- "Detour Ahead" seems to always be the right song. B+(**)
  72. Adam Cruz: Milestone (2010 [2011], Sunnyside): Drummer, b. 1970 in New York City, has a lot of side credits since 1991 (Eddie Palmieri, Chick Corea, Edward Simon, David Sanchez, Danilo Pérez, Chris Potter, Steve Wilson, Ray Barretto are only some of the names; 70-some albums), but this is his first under his own name -- and a big one: wrote all eight pieces (long ones, add up to 75:49). He's joined by Potter (tenor sax), either Wilson (soprano sax) or Miguel Zenón (alto sax), Simon (piano), Steve Cardenas (guitar), and Ben Street (bass). Brash contemporary postbop, the horns stellar, especially when one or the other finds some solo room. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  73. Mark Dagley: Mystery of the Guitar (2011, Abaton Book): Guitarist, first album although he also played on something called El Gato with Frick-the-Cat, and he seems to have a much more substantial reputation as a visual artist -- mostly abstracts. Studied classical guitar, including a class with André Segovia. Played in a short-lived Boston punk band called the Girls (cf. Live at the Rathskeller 5.17.79, which I sought out for Recycled Goods but ultimately graded B). This is solo, folkloric in a rather oblique way, like no one else so much as John Fahey. B+(**)
  74. Joseph Daley Earth Tones Ensemble: The Seven Deadly Sins (2010 [2011], Jaro): First album by Daley, although his discography goes back to 1971 and most of it points this way. He plays tuba and euphonium here, with a little trombone and other low register horns on his resume. Has mostly worked in big bands -- Gil Evans, Sam Rivers, Carla Bley, Muhal Richard Abrams, George Gruntz, Bill Dixon -- with side roles in Howard Johnson's Gravity and Bill Cole's Untempered Ensemble. Huge group here, lots of guys you know -- Marty Ehrlich, Scott Robinson, Lew Soloff (I presume, notes say Lou), Eddie Allen, Craig Harris, Vincent Chancey, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Warren Smith, Satoshi Takeishi, and a quorum of the tuba players union, including Howard Johnson and Bob Stewart. Fast, slick, complex, oh so deep. B+(***) [Rhapsody]
  75. John Daversa: Junk Wagon: The Big Band Album (2011, BFM Jazz): Trumpet player, also EVI. Second album, both Big Band; has pretty scattered side credits -- Burt Bacharach, Fiona Apple, Kim Richmond, Yellowjackets, Andrae Crouch. Title cut leans toward hip-hop, but backs away, and I don't have any idea what he really wants to do, other than be a bit different. "Cheeks" is an example that delivers both on textures and solo, which is what you hope for in a big band. B+(*)
  76. Norman David and the Eleventet: At This Time (2011, CoolCraft): Soprano saxophonist, composer, wrote a textbook called Jazz Arranging; b. in Montreal, moved to US in 1970s, since 1979 in Philadelphia, where he's Artist-in-Residence at Temple U. Second album, after a 2001 quartet. The Eleventet comes in just shy of big band weight, with four reeds instead of five, two trumpets and two trombones instead of four each -- as flexible but puts less emphasis on section muscle. A few names: George Garzone, Dick Oatts, Tim Hagans, John Hébert. Strong solo spots, neatly arranged. B+(*)
  77. Kris Davis: Aeriol Piano (2009 [2011], Clean Feed): Pianist, originally from Canada, based in New York. Has several excellent records, but they've mostly featured top saxophonists like Tony Malaby. This one is solo piano, inevitably a little thin but interesting nonetheless, especially for her rhythmic workings. Note that the inside photos show her leaning over the box, not operating the keys. B+(**)
  78. Chuck Deardorf: Transparence (2007-10 [2011], Origin): Bassist (upright, electric, fretless), b. 1954, based in Seattle, teaches at Cornish College of the Arts. First album, but has 40-50 side credits, going back to Don Lanphere in 1984. Wrote 1.5 of 10 pieces here (the co-credit with pianist Bill Mays), with two more pieces by musicians on the record (Bruce Forman, Jovino Santos Neto). Looks like the pieces were recorded over several years with various combos yet the flow together remarkably well, mostly due to the four guitarists. B+(**)
  79. Deep Blue Organ Trio: Wonderful! (2010 [2011], Origin): Booklet says "Recorded December 18, 19 and 20, 2011" -- I'm pretty sure that's just wrong, not prophetic. Chris Foreman plays organ, Bobby Broom guitar, Greg Rockingham drums. Group has four albums since 2004. This one is all Stevie Wonder songs, although scarcely any register with me as such. Presumably that's because jazz guys like to change things around. On the other hand, I find the faint overtones vaguely annoying. B-
  80. Joey DeFrancesco: 40 (2011, High Note): Hammond organ player, b. 1971, probably the most celebrated, no doubt also most prolific (AMG lists 28 albums) of his generation. Albums is named for his age -- something I missed when unpacking. Trio with Rick Zunigar on guitar and Ramon Banda on drums. Zunigar has three albums on his own -- one titled Organ Trio -- and side work with Stevie Wonder, but isn't much of a factor here. The leader, however, has a knack for conjuring up gritty tones, serving them up fat. B+(*)
  81. The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume Two (2008 [2011], Origin): Volume One is an HM in my ill-fated last Jazz CG column, and this is the same thing only with more faux pas -- DeMerle's Louis Armstrong impression, for one. The setup is that DeMerle plays drums and sings in an amusedly offhanded way, while wife/vocalist Bonnie Eisele takes the straight leads. The band is your basic Hot Club -- violin (Willie Wainwright), guitar (Tom Conway and Phil Benoit), and bass (Marcus Johnson) -- and a couple guests drop in. Think Louis Prima and Keely Smith, but DeMerle isn't as funny, and Eisele isn't as stuck up. B+(**)
  82. Claire Dickson: Scattin' Doll (2009-10 [2011], NDR): Standards singer, b. 1997 -- that's right, 13 years old or less when she cut this, her first album. I certainly wouldn't have guessed her age, especially third track in when she growls and scats her way through "Black Coffee" -- a song that ages all who touch it. She doesn't have an especially memorable voice, and there's nothing very distinctive about her phrasing, but she shows some sass and class in her songs, and can scat credibly. Three cuts have horns, which help but are front-loaded, so the record tails off a bit. B+(*)
  83. Chris Dingman: Waking Dreams (2011, Between Worlds Music): Vibraphonist, from San Jose, CA; studied at Wesleyan, which put him in Anthony Braxton's orbit, but closer to home under Jay Hoggard. Based in New York. Has side credits since 2004 with Steve Lehman, Harris Eisenstadt, Ambrose Akinmusire. First album, with Akinmusire on trumpet, Loren Stillman on sax, Fabian Almazan on piano, plus bass, drums, and occasional guests. Open textures, lots of space. B+(*) [advance]
  84. Mike DiRubbo & Larry Willis: Four Hands, One Heart (2010 [2011], Ksanti): Alto sax-piano duo. DiRubbo is b. 1970, has six previous albums since 1999, mostly mainstream labels, consistently makes a strong impression. Willis is 30 years older (b. 1940), has played a bit of everything; rarely got his name up front before 1990, but has a couple dozen albums since; is a thoughtful accompanist, doing a nice job of setting up and fleshing out the sax. One original each, six covers mostly bop era; "Star Eyes" always gets my attention. B+(**)
  85. Jack Donahue: Parade: Live in New York City (2010 [2011], Two Maples): Singer, based in New York, fourth album -- all covers here but I don't know about previous albums and his website suggests he writes some. Draws twice each on Jimmy Webb and Harold Arlen (one with Mercer, the other with E.Y. Harburg -- spelled Yarburg on the back cover). Backed with piano-bass-drums plus trumpet (Marcus Parsley) on one cut. Voice sticks with you, and he seems like a likable crooner. B
  86. Chris Donnelly: Metamorphosis (2011, Alma): Pianist, based in Toronto; second album, solo like the first, this time the 50:43 title piece broken into ten movements. Better when he was covering other people. Better when he played his own stuff but didn't have to hack it into an überconcept. Better when he wore clothes. B-
  87. Dave Douglas: Orange Afternoons [Greenleaf Portable Series Volume 2] (2011, Greenleaf Music): Postbop quintet, with stars Ravi Coltrane on sax and Vijay Iyer on piano, rising stars Linda Oh on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. All Douglas originals. The sort of thing Douglas did a lot of a decade ago -- and which I found annoying more often than not, ultimately throwing my hands up and figuring I'm just not smart enough to follow him. Not sure which of us is mellowing out, but I will note that neither Coltrane nor Iyer break out, which must mean they're pinned down by the compositions. B+(**)
  88. Lajos Dudas/Hubert Bergmann: What's Up Neighbor? (2011, Jazz Sick): Clarinet-piano duets, writing credits evenly distributed, although much of this feels improvised. Leans a bit toward the wayward abstract, not unlike the 1960s work of Jimmy Giuffre and Paul Bley. B+(**)
  89. Phil Dwyer Orchestra: Changing Seasons (2011, ALMA): Composer, big band leader, plays saxophone and piano (only briefly here), b. 1965 in Canada; has at least three albums. This one adds a "Featuring Mark Fewer" byline -- Fewer plays the violin leads, and arranged the strings that supplement (and usually overshadow) the big band. Closer to classical than to jazz -- all swish and no swing -- with four movements, each named for a season. C+
  90. Yelena Eckemoff: Grass Catching the Wind (2009-10 [2011], Yelena Music): Pianist, from Moscow, moved to US in 1991. Website lists 17 albums, doesn't give dates -- probably start in early 1990s -- but divides them up as 4 classical, 2 vocal, and 11 "original instrumental" albums, including one that came out after this one (Flying Steps, with Derek Oleszkiewicz and Peter Erskine; don't have it). This is a piano trio, cut in Copenhagen with Mads Vinding on bass and Morten Lund on drums. All originals. Most have strong rhythm and I always like that in a pianist, along with crisp and clever fingerwork. B+(**)
  91. Yelena Eckemoff: Flying Steps (2011, Yelena Music): Pianist, born and raised in Moscow, with one of those rigorous Soviet educations in classical music. Moved to US in 1991. Classical music dominates her discography, but she's edged into jazz and produced several more-than-credible trio records. This one includes Darek Oleszkiewicz on bass and Peter Erskine on drums. B+(**)
  92. Duke Ellington: Meets Coleman Hawkins/And John Coltrane (1962 [2011], Impulse): Pianist, composer, bandleader par excellence since he moved his Washingtonians to Harlem in 1927. In the early 1960s he branched out, appearing in small groups and ad hoc combos, including such peers as Louis Armstrong and Count Basie.
    Meets Coleman Hawkins (1962): The tenor sax great was an undemanding sort, delighted to play Ellington songs in a superb combo of Ellingtonians, including Ray Nance, Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney, and Johnny Hodges (a frequent acquaintance over several decades). "Limbo Rock" is so ecstatic someone (Sam Woodyard?) can't help but sing along. After that, they settle in for sublime. A+
    And John Coltrane (1962): A little more unsettled: half the tracks find Ellington replacing Tyner in Coltrane's quartet, the other half add Coltrane to an Ellington piano trio with Aaron Bell on bass and Sam Woodyard on drums. Coltrane even got one of his songs on the program ("Big Nick"), while Ellington graciously offered up his theme song as "Take the Coltrane." Coltrane eventually settles into the groove, but not without putting up a fight, which is half the fun. A-
  93. Empirical: Elements of Truth (2011, Naim Jazz): English quartet: Nathaniel Facey (alto sax), Lewis Wright (vibes), Tom Farmer (bass), Shaney Forbes (drums); Farmer does most of the writing, followed by Facey (2) and Wright (1). Third album since 2007. Sax lines are cutting edge postbop, the vibes adding a light and flighty contrast. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  94. John Escreet: The Age We Live In (2010 [2011], Mythology): Pianist, b. 1984 in Doncaster, UK; moved to New York 2006. Third album since 2008: quartet with David Binney (alto sax, electronics), Wayne Krantz (guitar), and Marcus Gilmore (drums, percussion), but adds extra musicians -- brass (Brad Mason, Max Seigel) and strings (Christian Howes, credited with the whole kaboodle not just violin). The electronics are the clue: Escreet plays more electric keyb than acoustic piano, and the overall vibe pushes into fusion territory. Binney is a bright spot, and this is similar to his Graylen Epicenter (on the same label). Can't say much about the strings, and suspect it's just as well I didn't notice. B+(*)
  95. European Movement Jazz Orchestra: EMJO: Live in Coimbra (2010 [2011], Clean Feed): Can parse the cover at least two ways -- e.g., artist could just as well be "EMJO [European Movement Jazz Orchestra]. Group was formed in 2007 "with the idea of being the cultural ambassador of Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia during the time of their presidency of the European council." Those nations seem to cover the many names I don't recognize in this slightly enlarged big band (5 trumpets, 5 reeds, 4 trombones, piano, guitar, 2 basses, drums) -- Benny Brown is the only name that looks unaccounted for, although I can't swear the obvious East Europeans (Markovic, Kopac, Pukl, Draksler, Modern Kukic) are all from Slovenia. Isidor Leitinger conducts. Five of six pieces come from five different band members. In conception combines fado and "Blasmusik" and "Slovenian poetry"; in effect, postmodern but not quite free, with an industrial undertow. B+(*)
  96. Falkner Evans: The Point of the Moon (2010 [2011], CAP): Pianist, originally from Oklahoma, played for a while with Asleep at the Wheel, moved to New York in 1985 and went into jazz, notably with Cecil McBee. Fourth album since 2002. Aside from the last two cuts, this is a pretty typical hard bop group, with Greg Tardy (tenor sax), Ron Horton (trumpet), Belden Bullock (bass), and Matt Wilson (drums), the stereotypical postbop jazz sound. Shifts a bit at the end, with Gary Versace sitting in on the last two cuts, one on organ, the other on accordion. Both slow the pace, blunt the horns, and the latter slips in a little tango. B
  97. Orrin Evans: Freedom (2010 [2011], Posi-Tone): Pianist, b. 1976 in Trenton, NJ, raised and based in Philadelphia, studied at Rutgers with Kenny Barron. Has a dozen-plus albums since 1994. Seven of nine cuts are piano trio here, with Dwayne Burno on bass and either Byron Landham or Anwar Marshall on drums. The other two cuts add Larry McKenna on tenor sax. First trio cut is up and strong -- song is by Charles Fambrough, one of three people the album is dedicated to -- but the sax cut drops the piano into the background, as happens again late in the album when the piano finally reasserts itself. B+(**)
  98. Jeff Fairbanks' Project Hansori: Mulberry Street (2009-10 [2011], Bju'ecords): Trombone player, studied at University of South Florida, now based in New York. First album (only one of 4 side credits AMG lists looks right). Korean-themed big band project -- presumably wife (and guest cellist) Heun Choi Fairbanks has something to do with the interest. Baritone saxophonist Fred Ho, whose Afro Asian Music Ensemble set the standard for this sort of thing, gets a "with special guest" credit on the front cover, but only appears on two tracks. There are spots where the Korean rhythms and tones emerge, but mostly a pretty solid big band record. B+(*)
  99. Joe Farrell: Outback (1970 [2011], CTI/Masterworks Jazz): An underrated tenor saxophonist, dead before his 50th birthday, leads a quartet with Chick Corea on electric piano, Buster Williams, and Elvin Jones; the title track opens weakly on flute, so this takes a while to get moving, only catching fire on the final track. B+(*)
  100. Kali Z. Fasteau/William Parker/Cindy Blackman: An Alternate Universe (1991-92 [2011], Flying Note): New release, comes out same time as the reissue of Prophecy, a more scattered 1993 album documenting this same period -- guess you can call these outtakes. Fasteau has worked through several permutations of her name -- no idea why the period in "Kali." appeared, but "Z." once appeared as Zusann. She was b. 1947, childhood split between New York and Paris, lived in sixteen countries, picked up instruments from most of them. She married Donald Rafael Grant, a bassist who also played clarinet with Coltrane in his latter avant-garde phase; fifteen years her senior, he died in 1989, which is about the point when Fasteau started her solo career. (A compilation of her 1975-77 work with Garrett, Memoirs of a Dream, is fascinating.) She plays a dozen-plus instruments, none especially well although she is a fearless risktaker and sometimes makes it pay off. Here she rotates between cello, soprano sax, and electric piano, with bassist Parker on all tracks, drummer Blackman on 5 (of 8). The cello seems to grow out of Parker's bass, full of razor edges. The soprano is rough and warbly. The electric piano is played more for toy percussion, held back to let the bass and drums wander. B+(**)
  101. Fattigfolket: Park (2010 [2011], Ozella Music): Scandinavian quartet -- recorded this in Norway, at least one previous album in Denmark; not sure where all the musicians come from: Gunnar Halle (trumpet), Halvard Godal (sax, clarinet), Putte Johander (bass), Ole Morten Sommer (drums). Eleven songs named for parks or parklike locales (like "Grunewald"). Free but not very fleet, hemmed in by their folk jazz hypothesis. B+(*)
  102. Scott Fields & Multiple Joyce Orchestra: Moersbow/OZZO (2009 [2011], Clean Feed): Guitarist, from Chicago, has a couple dozen albums since 1993, about as close as anyone to being an American analog to Derek Bailey. Doesn't play here; instead conducts MJO through a 13:54 piece dedicated to Merzbow and the much-longer 4-part "OZZO." MJO was founded in 2008 by Frank Gratkowski (alto sax), Carl Ludwig Hübsch (tuba), and Matthias Schubert (tenor sax), with 24 members credited here -- a little bit of everything (except guitar), including computer and analog electronics. Has that scratchy, abstract feel, but is rarely without interest, and more pleasing than anyone would expect. B+(**)
  103. 5 After 4: Rome in a Day (2011, Alma): Toronto, Canada group, looks like this is their seventh album -- website says five but I count six there (not including this one); don't have date info, and AMG (sharp as ever) only lists this one. Drummer Vito Rezza wrote 7 of 11 pieces; keyboardist Matt Horner 3, with one group improv. Johnny Johnson plays "woodwinds"; Peter Cardinali bass and organ, and gets credit for horn arrangements. Postbop, gets a little soft and slick as Johnson moves up-register from tenor and Horner switches to Rhodes or organ. B
  104. The Flail: Live at Smalls (2010 [2011], Smalls Live): New York quintet: Dan Blankinship (trumpet), Stephan Moutot (tenor sax), Brian Marsella (piano), Reid Taylor (bass), Matt Zebroski (drums). Second album (I think: AMG lists this one, CDBaby has another one; their own website is utterly useless -- can't believe people pay money for design like that). Figure post-hard bop, but the horns and piano can pick up and run away from the pack. Runs 71 minutes, and never lets up. B+(**)
  105. Joel Forrester/Phillip Johnston: Live at the Hillside Club (2010 [2011], Asynchronous): The two principals of the Microscopic Septet, which has been making interesting music since 1981 -- most recently, see Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk. Here they play as a duo, Forrester on piano, Johnston on soprano sax, which gives you a bare framework of their act and repertoire. Four Monk songs, one from Johnston, the rest Forrester. Tempting to say this would be great if they'd just flesh it out a little: bass and drums, some extra horns with a little more weight like a baritone sax, maybe the marvelous Michael Hashim. B+(**)
  106. Four: On a Warm Summer's Evenin' (2010, Jazz Hang): Idaho group, nominally a saxophone quartet with Mark Watkins (soprano, alto), Brent Jensen (alto), Sandon Mayhew (tenor, and Jon Gudmundson (baritone). I'm familiar with Jensen, who has several good records on Origin. Everyone else is new to me, especially the group's de facto leader, Watkins, who wrote or arranged everything (9 originals, 3 covers, one by Coltrane, one more that might as well be -- "Chim Chim Cheree" -- and "My Funny Valentine"). Watkins teaches at BYU-Idaho, another new one on me: the former Ricks College in Rexburg, ID, an LDS-owned institution with nearly 15,000 students (more than the population of Rexburg as recently as 1990 -- Salon called it "the reddest place in America" after Bush got 93% of the vote in 2004). The group is supplemented by the BYU-Idaho Faculty Jazz Ensemble (rhythm section), including guitarist Corey Christiansen, and a much larger Faculty and Alumni band/orchestra/jazz ensemble, which gives Watkins a lot to arrange. This has spots that get cluttered, but for the most part everyone is well-behaved and it all grows into a warm, luxurious flow. B+(*)
  107. The Four Bags: Forth (2010 [2011], NCM East): Chamber jazz group, combining trombone (Brian Drye), accordion (Jacob Garchik), guitar (Sean Moran), and clarinet/bass clarinet (Michael McGinnis). Fourth album since 2000. I reckon the lack of bass and/or drums seals them into the chamber realm -- no chance of getting swept away in the rhythm -- but they have an impressive sonic density, especially when Moran's guitar turns on the juice. B+(*)
  108. Fourthought (2010 [2011], Nambulo Music): New York quartet's eponymous debut album, with two principals writing all but one cover ("Green Dolphin Street") -- Nicholas Biello (alto sax, soprano sax) and Manuel Weyand (drums) -- plus Kerong Chok (piano, Fender Rhodes) and Cameron Kayne (bass). Weyand (b. Germany) and Biello met at Manhattan School of Music; Kayne hails from Buffalo, Chok from Singapore. Smart postbop, some bite to the alto. B+(*)
  109. Ken Fowser/Behn Gillece: Duotone (2010 [2011], Posi-Tone): Sax/vibes respectively, Fowser pictured on the cover with a tenor, Gillece with mallets. Gillece wrote 8 of 10, Fowser the other two. Gillece has nothing under his own name, but he appeared on Fowser's two previous records. Quintet with Donald Vega (piano), David Wong (bass), Willie Jones III (drums). Straight mainstream postbop, faster than usual (a good idea). B+(**)
  110. Fred Fried and Core: EnCore (2011, Ballet Tree): Guitarist, b. 1948 in Brooklyn, influenced by George Van Eps who led him to the 7-string guitar on most of his 10 records -- here he moves on to an 8-string. Trio with bass (Michael Lavoie) and drums (Miki Matsuki). Take a middle road and works out intricacies from there. B+(*)
  111. Bill Frisell: All We Are Saying . . . (2011, Savoy Jazz): Framed as an album of John Lennon songs, although 7 of 16 are of a vintage where they also credit Paul McCartney. Doesn't seem to have been intended as a deep conviction tribute; rather, something that Frisell got roped into trying on a tour and like the sound of. From his liner notes: "This wasn't my idea. I didn't ask to do it. Ever since I've entered into the world of music, I've never really had to figure out what to do. The music always tells you what to do, where to go. There's always something new waiting right there in front of you." That something is the guitarist's logic in picking around a melody, so striking early on when he attacked artists as diverse as Ives and Madonna, honed over 40+ albums into an ingenious reflexive style. His intuitive approach fares about as well as any with the Beatles' songs -- a common temptation to people who grew up with them (Frisell was b. 1951) hoping to modernize the standards songbook, one that has almost never succeeded. With Greg Leisz on steel guitar and Jenny Scheinman on violin, plus Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums, the string sound is pure and saccharine sweet -- something one tires of, although it's unlikely that the opener, "Across the Universe," will ever sound more sumptously gorgeous. B+(**)
  112. Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble: Watershed (2009 [2011], Libra): Min-Yoh means folk music in Japanese, and three (of eight) songs here are identified as "Japanese traditional folk" -- the others are Fujii originals. Not knowing anything about Japanese folk music that can't be reduced to traditional instruments (none such here, but there are some vocals), I'm at a loss. Fujii plays piano, along with Andrea Parkins (accordion), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone), and Natsuki Tamura (trumpet). Accordion mostly adds density, and trombone darker tones. B+(**)
  113. Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Eto (2010 [2011], Libra): Prolific Japanese pianist -- a quick count shows 17 Jazz CG records for her and/or her husband-trumpeter Natsuki Tamura. Among many other groups, she runs four big bands, three based in Japan plus this all-star outfit in New York, on their 8th album together here. The big thing here is the 14-part "Eto Suite," plus three shorter pieces. Strong solos but less hectic than previous albums, with some nicely arranged stretches. B+(**)
  114. Curtis Fuller: Soul Trombone/Cabin in the Sky (1961-62 [2011], Impulse): Hard bop trombonist from Detroit, wrote and arranged enough to get his name up front from 1957 on, but not much of a showboat.
    Soul Trombone (1961): A sextet with Jimmy Heath's tenor sax for soul and Freddie Hubbard's trumpet for sparkle, with Cedar Walton steadying the hard bop rhythm section. Seems tentative to me, getting little mileage out of its star power -- only Hubbard really shines here. B
    Cabin in the Sky (1962): Music from Vernon Duke (né Vladimir Dukelsky)'s 1940 musical, done up fancy with a big orchestra arranged and conducted by Manny Albam. The strings are standard issue shlock, but the brass packs some punch, and Eddie Costa's vibes and Barry Galbraith's guitar are notable. B- B-
  115. Curtis Fuller: The Story of Cathy & Me (2011, Challenge): Trombonist, b. 1934 in Detroit, came up in hard bop bands -- Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet -- as well as credits with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Clark, Bud Powell, Cannonball and Nate Adderley, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Smith, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie, lots of guys who are long dead. Cathy was Fuller's wife, the former Catherine Rose Driscoll, who also died in 2010. No idea when they met and married, a detail that slipped through the cracks of an otherwise generous booklet. The album is broken up into three sections separated by spoken word "interludes." Two vocals by Tia Michelle Rouse also chop up the flow, which traces a grand arc from upbeat youth to solemn age. B+(**)
  116. Hal Galper Trio: Trip the Light Fantastic (2011, Origin): Veteran pianist, b. 1938, has thirty-some albums since 1971, including some real gems -- some I've noticed: Portrait (1989), Just Us (1993), Art-Work (2009). Trio with his label's ace rhythm section: Jeff Johnson on bass and John Bishop on drums. Three originals, four covers ("Guess I'll Hang Out My Tears to Dry," "Be My Love"). B+(*)
  117. Rob Garcia 4: The Drop and the Ocean (2011, Bju'ecords): Drummer, grew up in the Bronx (Pelham), studied at NYU and SUNY Purchase. Has at least two previous records (since 2005), short list of side credits. Quartet: Noah Preminger (tenor sax), Dan Tepfer (piano), John Hebert (bass). The first two are young guys who have gotten a lot of notice for their own albums; Hebert is one of those bassists who makes everything better. B+(**)
  118. Giacomo Gates: The Revolution Will Be Jazz: The Songs of Gil Scott-Heron (2010-11 [2011], Savant): Singer, says somewhere he was 40 in 1990, so figure b. 1950; drove trucks, worked on the Alaska Pipeline, tried singing in Fairbanks bars but didn't get very far; moved to Connecticut, cut a record in 1995, four more since. Attracted to Jon Hendricks and vocalese, also a source of Scott-Heron's music. (Let me interject that I've long had a kneejerk reaction to the flamboyant hipsterism of vocalese, and that turned me off from Scott-Heron's albums, regardless of how appealing the politics were.) Gates thought about doing a Scott-Heron albums back in the early 1990s, but didn't get going on it until Scott-Heron returned after a 13 year hiatus with I'm New Here last year. Then Scott-Heron died at 62 on May 27 this year, a few weeks before this arrived in the mail. Avoids the most overtly political tracts in favor of the jazz legacy, sentimentalizes "New York City," keeps the hopes and prayers alive, but also the "Gun" dilemma. A deeper, more measured singer, who can scat but doesn't have to. Limits the horns to two cuts, using Claire Daly on baritone once and on flute for "Winter in America," where it belongs. B+(***)
  119. The Jeff Gauthier Goatette: Open Source (2011, Cryptogramophone): Violinist, was involved in Vinny Golia's Nine Winds label back in the 1990s and launched Cryptogramophone around 2000, which has taken Golia's avant-garde tendencies and turned them into something more commercial -- Nels Cline is the label's star. Gauthier himself has five albums on the label (seven total). In this one four (of six) musicians are credited with effects -- Gauthier, John Fumo (trumpet), Nels Cline (guitar), and David Witham (keyboards, accordion) -- leaving only bass (Joel Hamilton) and drums (Alex Cline) with no extra tricks. The result is a semi-fusion, often impressive especially when everyone works in sync. B+(**)
  120. Glows in the Dark: Beach of the War Gods (2010 [2011], self-released): Richmond, VA quintet: Scott Burton (guitar), Scott Clark (drums), John Lilley (alto & tenor sax), Reginald Pace (trombone), Cameron Ralston (bass). Burton writes, aside from the four group-credited "Violent Rome" pieces. Draws inspiration from soundtracks, which this on occasion slouches into. Otherwise they can mount an interesting presence. B+(*)
  121. Volker Goetze Orchestra: NY 10027 (2011, G*Records): Trumpeter, from Germany; has a previous album with kora player Ablaye Cissoko listed first. This is a big band, recorded in New York, with modern tendencies, not afraid to get a little mussed up, noisy even. B
  122. Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein: Bienestan (2009 [2011], Sunnyside): Two pianists, although not a piano duet album. Klein, the senior member less because he's four years older (b. 1970) than because he wrote all of the originals (7.5 of 13, the fraction an intro to "All the Things You Are" to close the album). But Goldberg is the lead pianist, with Klein chiming in on Fender Rhodes: no track credits between them, but seems like mostly one or the other, which means mostly Goldberg. Also on board: Matt Penman (bass), Eric Harland (drums), Miguel Zenon (alto sax on five cuts, including both Charlie Parker tunes), and Chris Cheek (tenor sax on two, soprano on one, all of those with Zenon, none by Parker). Traces of tango seep in here and there -- Klein is from Argentina, so that's almost a given. The rapid-fire rat-a-tat of "Human Feel," with both horns in sync, is especially noteworthy. B+(**)
  123. Otzir Godot: Kas Kas (2009, Epatto): Drummer, from Finland. First record, a few years old now, got it along with a new one. All improvised. Five cuts are duos with saxophonist Ikka Kahri, two more are duos with Robin DeWan on didgeridoo, the other four are brief solos. The sax-drums duos are smartly balanced, engaging. The deep hums less interesting but a nice backdrop for the percussion, which never pushes too hard. B+(**)
  124. Otzir Godot: Drum Poems (2011, Epatto): Drummer, from Finland, second album, plays solo using a wide, world encircling range of percussion instruments. Thirteen pieces, mostly conceptual, have some interest but also have their limits. B+(*)
  125. Vinny Golia Quartet: Take Your Time (2011, Relative Pitch): Plays the whole range of clarinets, saxes, and flutes; b. 1946, has been very prolific since 1977, releasing almost all of his work on his own Nine Winds label, but occasionally strays -- Greetings From Norma Desmond is a personal favorite. Plays soprano/alto/tenor sax here, with Bobby Bradford on cornet, Kin Filiano on bass, and Alex Cline on drums. This group generates a lot of heat, and while Golia's riffing sometimes seems a bit pat (by which I mean I've never cared for that Charlie Parker up-and-down shit), Bradford always hangs in there and adds something interesting. B+(***) [Rhapsody]
  126. Mac Gollehon: Odyssey of Nostalgia (2011, American Showplace Music): Trumpet player. Website is a helpless piece of Flash, so I'm short on bio. AMG lists six albums since 1996: two with "smokin'" in the title, one "straight ahead," one In the Spirit of Fats Navarro. This one digs around various old blues bags, including "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," but also "Two Sleepy People" and "Dirtynogooder Blues" and "Over the Rainbow." Band includes Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax, flute), Bill Easley (clarinet, alto sax), Amina Claudine Myers (organ), Ron McClure (bass), Warren Smith (drums), Junior Vega (congas), and features Olga Merediz's vocals on about half of the tracks. Some work, some not so much. B+(**)
  127. Jerry Gonzalez: Jerry Gonzalez y el Comando de la Clave (2011, Sunnyside): Trumpet player, b. 1949 in New York, played congas for Dizzy Gillespie, then moved on to Eddie Palmieri's band, then his own Fort Apache Band. Moved to Spain around 2000, hooking up with Flamenco musicians for Jerry Gonzalez y los Piratas del Flamenco (recorded 2001, released 2004), and now this belated sequel. (Don't have recording dates here. Again, Diego "El Cigala" sings, but the focus is less on him than on the beat -- Alberto "Chele" Cobo's clave, Israel Suarez "Piraba"'s cajon. Several standards appear -- "Tenderly," "Love for Sale," "In a Sentimental Mood," "Obsesion" -- and that's where the trumpet breaks away from the distractions. B+(**)
  128. Danny Grissett: Stride (2011, Criss Cross): Pianist, from Los Angeles, studied at Cal Arts, based in New York. Fourth album since 2006, a trio with Vincente Archer on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. Has very little swing, let alone stride, to his style; basically a straight-up postbop player with a deft touch. Three originals, five covers range from Chopin to Tom Harrell and Nicholas Payton. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  129. The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble: Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff (2008 [2011], ECM): Gurdjieff was born c. 1866, father Greek, mother Armenian, in Armenia, then part of the Russian Empire, and died 1949, best known as some kind of spiritual teacher -- he described what he was doing as "esoteric Christianity" or "the fourth way." Along the way he wrote some music, often working with Thomas de Hartmann, drawing on Central Asian folk and religious music, Russian Orthodox liturgical music, and other sources. This is some of that, played on traditional instruments (oud, blul, kanon, santur, tar, saz, duduk, etc.) by a group in Yerevan, Armenia, under the direction of Levon Eskenian. This has a preserved-in-amber air: minimal, elegant, delicate, enchanting. B+(**)
  130. Gutbucket: Flock (2010 [2011], Cuneiform): First squawk out of the box sounds great, plus the song there is called "Fuck You and Your Hipster Tie." Band consists of Ken Thomson (saxes and clarinets, mostly alto sax), Ty Citerman (guitar), Eric Rockwin (bass, mostly electric), and Adam Gold (drums). Fifth album since 2001. As with several recent fusion groups, the sax (or even clarinet) gives the guitar a sharper edge, and working that sound is the group's strong suit. The rock rhythms, though, can get a bit sludgy. B+(**)
  131. Tim Hagans: The Moon Is Waiting (2011, Palmetto): Trumpet player, b. 1954 in Ohio, has had a rather scattered career with 11 albums since 1983 -- jazztronica fusion, tributes to Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard, seems like mostly big band work lately. This is straightforward postbop, a quartet with Vic Juris on guitar, Rufus Reid on bass, Jukkis Uotila on drums (and piano). Juris is as distinctive as ever, which throws everything off just enough to give Hagans his edge. B+(**)
  132. Randy Halberstadt: Flash Point (2010, Origin): Pianist, b. 1953 in New York, based in Seattle, teaches at Cornish College of the Arts; has a book, Metaphors for the Musician: Perspectives From a Jazz Pianist, and four albums since 1991. Quintet with Thomas Marriott (trumpet), Mark Taylor (alto sax), Jeff Johnson (bass), and Mark Ivester (drums). Halberstadt wrote 6 of 9 pieces, covering Sam Rivers ("Beatrice"), Miles Davis ("Solar"), and "On Green Dolphin Street." Postbop. Impressed more by the piano than by the horns, which probably help to broaden and stabilize the record but are never what's interesting. B
  133. Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone: Departure of Reason (2011, Thirsty Ear): Guitar-viola duo: Halvorson is a frequently astounding young guitarist, Pavone an erratic violist, both sing some, and together they trend towards folk music, or anti-folk, or something slightly stranger. B+(*) [advance]
  134. Sir Roland Hanna: Colors From a Giant's Kit (1990s-2002 [2011], IPO): Pianist from Detroit, lived 1932-2002, has a couple credits in 1959 but his discography picks up in 1971 and he remain productive to the end. Solo piano, something he did at least a dozen albums of, from various sessions -- annoying that I can't find a detailed accounting. Mix of originals and covers. Can be dense and even dazzling, but I can't latch onto anything as especially interesting. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  135. Stefon Harris/David Sanchez/Christian Scott: Ninety Miles (2011, Concord Picante): Three mainstream jazz stars, more or less, visit Cuba, hooking up with two local "piano-led Cuban jazz quartets" (meaning piano-bass-drums+percussion), one led by Rember Duharte, the other by Harold López-Nussa. The visitors have some trouble finding their bearings (especially the vibraphonist), but once Scott rips off a blistering trumpet solo the tide turns, and the percussion carries the day. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  136. Donald Harrison: This Is Jazz: Live at the Blue Note (2011, Half Note): Alto saxophonist, b. 1960 in New Orleans, father was big chief of four different New Orleans Indian tribes, a family trade Harrison followed it, although he also picked up some bebop, worked his way through Art Blakey's boot camp, and most recently has been playing both sides in HBO's Treme. This is the postbop side, a trio with Ron Carter and Billy Cobham. Starts with two Carter pieces, then a 5:39 bass solo on "You Are My Sunshine" -- the sort of thing that doesn't come through well on record no matter how mesmerizing it may have been live. Picks back up again with "Seven Steps to Heaven," and closes strong on Harrison's "Treme Swagger." B+(**)
  137. Werner Hasler/Karl Berger/Gilbert Paeffgen: Hasler/Paeffgen/Berger (2010 [2011], NoBusiness): Hasler plays trumpet and dabbles in electronics; b. 1969, based in Switzerland, has a couple previous records. Berger plays vibes; he goes back a long ways (b. 1935 in Germany). Paeffgen is a drummer, b. 1958 in Germany, based in Switzerland. The vibes gives this a light and slippery background, against which the trumpet is meticulously etched. The electronics helps, too. B+(**)
  138. Coleman Hawkins: Today and Now/Desafinado (1962 [2011], Impulse): The first significant tenor saxophonist in jazz history, "the fount of all worthwhile saxophone playing" as one critic put it, perhaps slowing down a bit but still instantly recognizable a couple years ahead of his sudden decline from 1966 to his death in 1969.
    Today and Now (1963): A quartet album with Tommy Flanagan on piano, gets off to a frisky start with "Go Li'l Liza" -- his limbering up of "Li'l Liza Jane" couldn't possibly be more charming -- then moseys through a series of ballads, seemingly effortless but little short of magnificent. A
    Desafinado (1963): Subtitled Plays Bossa Nova & Jazz Samba, a perfunctory submission to a fad that Stan Getz started. The extra guitar and percussion forces everything into a samba beat, but nothing -- not even songs by Jobim and Gilberto -- can keep Hawkins from sounding like himself. A rather silly album, but it's impossible to listen to him without feeling pleasure. B+(*) B+(***)
  139. Kevin Hays: Variations (2011, Pirouet): Pianist, 13th album since 1994, not counting his recent duo with Brad Mehldau on Patrick Zimmerli's Modern Music, which this seems to be a study for. Twenty-four short cuts divided into three sets, most of the pieces appearing in variations in each. B+(**)
  140. Thomas Heberer's Clarino: Klippe (2010 [2011], Clean Feed): Trumpet player, b. 1965 in Germany, based in New York since 2008. Probably has ten or so records more/less under his own name since 1988 -- I can't find a definitive list, as well as side credits with Alexander von Schlippenbach (including Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra) and Misha Mengelberg (including ICP Orchestra). Trio with Joachim Badenhorst (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Pascal Niggenkemper (bass). Slow and moody, a tone painting that never quite resolves. B
  141. Gilad Hekselman: Hearts Wide Open (2010 [2011], Le Chant du Monde): Guitarist, b. 1983 in Israel, in New York since 2004, graduating from New School and sticking around. Third album: 6 (of 10) cuts trio with Joe Martin (bass) and Marcus Gilmore (drums). The other four add saxophonist Mark Turner. Intricate, poised, nice tone to the guitar. Sax doesn't really add much. B+(*)
  142. Nick Hempton: The Business (2010 [2011], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, b. 1976, from Australia, based in New York; second album, a quintet with Art Hirahara (piano), Yotam Silberstein (guitar), Marco Panascia (bass), and Dan Aran (drums). Mainstream, high energy, rarely flags. Wrote 8 of 10, covering "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You" and "From Bechet, Byas, and Fats" (Rahsaan Roland Kirk). Gets strong support, especially from Silberstein. B+(**)
  143. Ig Henneman Sextet: Cut a Caper (2010 [2011], Stichting Wig): Dutch viola player, b. 1945, from Haarlem. Her website lists 15 albums since 1981 -- the first two as FC Gerania, two more as Queen Mab Trio. The Sextet has no drums, giving it a chamber feel, but lots of options: Ab Baars (tenor sax, clarinet, shakuhachi), Axel Dörner (trumpet), Lori Freedman (bass clarinet, clarinet), Wilbert De Joode (bass), and Marilyn Lerner (piano). Difficult terrain, but Baars is as sure-footed as I've ever heard him, and Lerner's piano themes always get your attention, perhaps to regroup from the horns. B+(**)
  144. Magos Herrera: México Azul (2010 [2011], Sunnyside): Singer, from Mexico, seventh album since 1997. This one was cut in New Jersey with a stellar jazz group -- Tim Hagans (trumpet), Adam Rogers (guitar), Luis Perdomo (piano), John Patitucci (bass), Alex Kautz (drums), Rogerio Boccato (percussion) -- although I don't find she gets much out of them. Songs are all in Spanish, evidently mostly movie themes. Dark voice, dramatic, but one of those hard to judge singers for those of us who don't understand the language. B
  145. Mace Hibbard: Time Gone By (2010 [2011], MHM): Alto saxophonist, b. 1976 in Waco, TX; studied at U. Texas in Austin, based in Atlanta. Second album, hard-bop-style quintet with trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Nice tone, soulful and a bit lush. B+(**)
  146. High Fiddelity: Tell Me! (2004-10 [2011], High Fiddelity): German group, led by violinist Natalia Brunke, b. 1971 in Munich; first or second album -- she also has a string trio called Casablanca which as I understand it has a demo album but I can't tell how it is distributed. Group includes piano, bass, and drums, plus vocalist Marina Trost. The violin leads are quite charming. The vocals -- all in English, by the way -- could use more sass, especially on a title like "My Life Is So Damn Beautiful (Once You Left It)." B+(*)
  147. Marquis Hill: New Gospel (2011, self-released): Trumpet player, based in Chicago, first album, a mainstream thing with soulful integrity, the front line shared with two saxophones, the rhythm section filled out with both piano and guitar. Modestly runs 36:36 -- in a more commercial genre this would be counted as an EP. B+(*)
  148. Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band: The Sweet Science Suite (2011, Mutable/Big Red Media): Subtitled: "A Scientific Soul Music Honoring of Muhammad Ali." Baritone saxophonist, b. 1957 in Palo Alto, CA, of Chinese descent, has built a notable career out of bridging African, Asian, and American musics, and charging them with political immediacy, working especially in a big band context -- the last few years he's called his group the Green Monster Band, and they usually live up to the name. Numerous strong passages here, but also a few rough spots, and the vocals near the end didn't connect. [Don't have recording date. Ho has been fighting colon cancer since 2006, and at least some of his recent spate of records predate his illness, but there's some reason to think this is more recent.] B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  149. Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band: Year of the Tiger (2004 [2011], Innova): Pre-illness, unreleased at the time, I'd guess, because it's a hoary mess, although it has inspired moments, ridiculous ideas, and such an enthusiastic implementation it's hard to carp. There's a big suite called "Take the Zen Train," offering "Optometry for the Vision-less" and critiquing "The Violence of Virtuosity." There are medleys of Michael Jackson and Jimi Hendrix -- the Jackson descends into a long sequence of horror movie sounds on "Thriller" that cry out for video. There's a huge people's chorus on "Hero Among Heroes" -- reminds me of Maoist mass propaganda although I wouldn't claim that it is. B [Rhapsody]
  150. Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica: Presents . . . Third River Rangoon (2011, Tiki): Boston group, led by Brian O'Neill (vibes, percussion), was a big band on their 2010 debut (Presents . . . The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel), stripped down to a quartet here, with Geni Skendo on bass flute and c-flute, Jason Davis on bass, and Noriko Terada on percussion. Aims for 1950s exotica; comes up a bit flat. B
  151. Ari Hoenig: Lines of Oppression (2009 [2011], Naïve): Drummer, from Philadelphia, part of the Smalls retro bop crowd -- cut a good album for them in 2004, The Painter. I was looking for one called Punkbop: Live at Smalls, and found this one instead. Quartet with Tigran Hamasyan on pianos, Gilad Hekselman on guitar, and either Orlando Le Fleming or Chris Tordini on bass, with various of them vocalizing, sounding rather like tapdance. Best at high speed with everyone pounding away. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  152. Human Element (2011, Abstract Logix): World fusion quartet: Scott Kinsey (synths, piano, vocoder), Arto Tunçboyaciyan (percussion, vocals), Matthew Garrison (bass), Gary Novak (drums). AT is by far the most accomplished member, b. 1957 in Turkey, has at least eight records since 1989, wrote 8 of 14 cuts here, plus carries a lot of weight with his vocals. MG may be the best known: the son of Coltrane Quartet bassist Jimmy Garrison, mostly (always?) plays electric bass, has 3 albums and a few dozen side credits. B+(*)
  153. Jason Kao Hwang/Edge: Crossroads Unseen (2010 [2011], Euonymous): Violinist, group named after a previous album; quartet with Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn), Ken Filiano (bass), and Andrew Drury (drums). I find the title cut drags melodramatically -- it's not obvious whether this is tied into Hwang's expertise in Chinese classical music, but I get the sense that there should be actors on stage when this plays. The rest of the pieces are more sprightly, as much affinity to Billy Bang as we're likely to find. Don't hear much from Bynum, but you can't go wrong with Filiano. B+(**)
  154. Jason Kao Hwang/Spontaneous River: Symphony of Souls (2010 [2011], Mulatta): Guess I complained too soon about Hwang's classical inclinations. This is a full-fledged symphony, eleven movements, played with 15 violins, 5 violas, 5 cellos, 6 basses, and 7 guitars -- some names I recognize in the small print, but not even the composer stands out in the dank mix. Not without its interest, and might gain something if you cranked the volume up. B+(*)
  155. Hybrid 10tet: On the Move (2011, BBB): Cover also mentions, in small print, "braam": that would be pianist Michiel Braam, who put this group together and wrote their pieces. Group is built from a classical string quartet (Matangi Quartet), a rowdy rock rhythm section (bass and drums, anyway, plus the pianist, and you might also factor in Carl Ludwig Hübsch's tuba), plus some avant-jazz brass (Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, Nils Wogram on trombone). The mix is often spectacular -- as on the tango-ish "Cuba, North Rhine-Westphalia" and the funk-noise of "Fat Centered Gravy" -- but sometimes not. (I initially suspected the strings, but it's not quite that simple.) The pianist, as usual, has fun. B+(**)
  156. Iron Dog: Field Recordings 1 (2005-06 [2011], Iron Dog Music): Sarah Bernstein on violin and voice, Stuart Popejoy on bass guitar; website lists Andrew Drury on drums, but here drummer is Tommaso Cappellato on 3 of 6 tracks. "Sonic landscapes," "minimalist structures erupt[ing] into frenetic, metallic onslaughts" -- something like that, maybe not so frenetic, but striking. B+(**)
  157. The preeminent vibraphone player of the early bebop world, notably working with pianists Thelonious Monk and John Lewis (Modern Jazz Quartet); prolific, adaptable to all styles, an attentive partner with an irrepressible sense of swing.
    Statements (1962): A quartet set matching him with Hank Jones on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and MJQ's Connie Kay on drums. Jones, like Jackson from Detroit, is equally adept at drawing his partners out. B+(***)
    Jazz 'n' Samba (1964): First four cuts are straight jazz before pianist Tommy Flanagan bows out and guitarist Barry Galbraith and Howard Collins enter for Jobim's title cut. No extra percussion, but Jackson manages to approximate, and the two vocals by Lilian Clark are charming. B+(*)
  158. Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Race Riot Suite (2011, Royal Potato Family): Tulsa group, recorded in Tulsa, so you know what race riot they're talking about -- if not, see here: took place in 1921, the only time I'm aware of where residential neighborhoods in the US were bombed by aircraft. Group has been around since the late 1990s, with close to a dozen records. Chris Combs (lap steel, guitar) wrote and arranged all of this, except for group improvs titled prayers. Group includes: Brian Haas (piano), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), and John Raymer (drums), and this time they're augmented by five horn players, including Peter Apfelbaum (baritone sax) and Steven Bernstein (trumpet). Haas goes all the way back to the beginning; Raymer joined in 2007, Combs joining in 2008, Harshbarger 2010. No words, so you're on your own figuring out why the upbeat "Black Wall Street" segues into a gloomy piece like "The Burning." The horns tend to drown out the core band, and while what they do is often interesting, it doesn't quite stand on its own. B+(*)
  159. Ahmad Jamal: Poinciana Revisited/Freeflight (1969-71 [2011], Impulse): Pianist, started life in 1930 as Fritz in Pittsburgh, is a unique stylist but is hard to describe because there's nothing idiosyncratic about him -- he's the very model of a modern jazz pianist.
    Poinciana Revisited (1969): Piano trio live at Top of the Village Gate in New York, returns to his most famous song -- recorded in 1955 and more famously in 1958 -- in a model program, even the closing Jobim/de Moraes tune fits in. A-
    Freeflight (1971): Same trio two years later live at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, closing with yet another take of "Poinciana." Starts with Jamal playing electric piano on McCoy Tyner's "Effendi" -- with the fade turned up the notes all but skip off the tape. Recovers somewhat. B+(*) B+(***)
  160. Maria Jameau and Blue Brazil: Gema (2010 [2011], Challenge): Singer, b. in Boston, middle name Billings, "has played piano for 30 years, with guitar, flute, and percussion as secondary instruments" (none evident here), has taught at New England Conservatory, based in Sebastopol, California, has one previous record. This is Brazil-themed, with pieces from Ben, Jobim, others less famous, and occasional hints of Africa. Local band includes guitar, "electric 8-string hybrid bass & guitar," percussion, and flute. Nicely done. B+(*)
  161. Daniel Jamieson's Danjam Orchestra: Sudden Appearance (2010 [2011], OA2): Big band -- 5 woodwinds, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, piano, bass, drums, voice (Jihne Kim) on 3 of 8 cuts, percussion on 2. Jamieson, originally from Toronto but based in New York, composed and conducted. First album, not many names I recognize in the orchestra. Jim McNeely, who knows more than a little about big bands, co-produced. Nothing very surprising here, but very solid as postbop big band goes. B+(**)
  162. Keith Jarrett: Rio (2011, ECM, 2CD): Solo piano, recorded live in Rio de Janeiro on April 9, 2011, divided up into Parts I-XV spread across two discs. Sounds not unlike the dozens of other solo albums he's released since The Köln Concert sold five million copies, except that his general trajectory, like life itself, has been to slow down and smell the roses -- so one thing I can note is that he provides little (if any) of his own vocal accompaniment here. I've slowed down enough myself to find this more than moderately pleasant, although every time rapturous applause erupts I wonder what I missed. B+(*)
  163. Jazzvox Presents: In Your Own Backyard (2009-10 [2011], OA2): Seventeen songs (only two originals) by nine singers -- three by Jo Lawry; two each by Kathleen Grace, Kelley Johnson, Kristin Korb, John Proulx, Stephanie Nakasian, Hanna Richardson; one each by Nich Anderson and Cathy Segal-Garcia -- backed minimally (most with just one of piano, bass, or guitar; no one with more than two, and no drums, but one accordion). Mixed bag, but many cuts are striking, including Anderson's "Time After Time" -- he produced, but seems to be the only one without a record out, and is the only one whose name is missing from the cover. I guess Jazzvox is his baby, and that's enough. B+(*)
  164. Elvin Jones: Illumination/Dear John C. (1963-65 [2011], Impulse): Brother of Hank and Thad Jones, at the time best known as the drummer in the John Coltrane Quartet. Never wrote much, but was charismatic enough to put together a substantial discography as a leader -- but not enough to rival Art Blakey.
    Illumination (1963): Full credit: Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Sextet Featuring McCoy Tyner: in other words, the rhythm section with three saxophonists -- Prince Lasha, Sonny Simmons, and Charles Davis -- plugged into Coltrane's slot. Everyone but Jones chips in a song, and Davis's baritone keeps grounded even when the other switch to flute and English horn. B+(*)
    Dear John C. (1965): Looks like a Coltrane tribute, but plays more like Jones's resignation from the quartet: Richard Davis plays bass, Roland Hanna and Hank Jones split the piano spot, and the sax slot goes to altoist Charlie Mariano, on a program that taps Ellington, Gillespie-Parker, Mingus, and some standards. Mariano, of course, is fine, but unconflicted where Coltrane was forever tying himself in knots. B+(**)
  165. Melvin Jones: Pivot (2011, Turnaround): Trumpet player, from Atlanta, storied at Morehouse, then Mason Gross School of the Arts (in New Jersey). First album. Glossier than hard bop, but that's the basic setup: Mace Hibbard on alto and tenor sax, Louis Heriveaux on piano, Rodney Jordan on bass, and Leon Anderson on drums, except when various "guests" break in. Upbeat, boisterous, souful, a bit on the slick side. B+(**)
  166. Tony Jones/Kenny Wolleson/Charles Burnham: Trio: Pitch, Rhythm, and Consciousness (2011, New Artists): Only released on LP, although I'm working off a CD-R. Jones plays tenor sax -- only time I've run across him before was on a record by his wife, alto saxophonist Jessica Jones. Burnham plays violin, and Wollesen drums. Free, but slow and moody, the violin receding into bass range. B+(*)
  167. Kidd Jordan: On Fire (2011, Engine): Avant saxophonist from New Orleans, b. 1935, has recorded infrequently because there's no market for avant-garde in New Orleans. With Harrison Bankhead, who grew up under Fred Anderson's wing, on bass and cello, plus Warren Smith on drums and vibes. Starts off squawky -- always a risk with Jordan -- but steadies on slower fare, a superb bass solo, and resourceful percussion. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  168. Kambar Kalendarov & Kutman Sultanbekov: Jaw (2011, Cantaloupe Music): Spine just says "JAW"; the two names above are in small print on the front cover, and several more musicians are named inside -- AMG also credits Nurlanbek Nyshanov, who claims 4 compositions (vs. 3 and 2 for the others; everything else belongs to trad.). Recorded in Kirghizstan, mostly using Kirghiz jaw harps -- Jew's harp is a corruption, and a misnomer. Each note has a lot of overtones so you mostly get simple melodies with lots of reverb, some resembling what you get in Tuvan throat singing. Some pieces have other Kirghiz instruments -- woodwinds, some kind of cello. Not much differentiation, but a distinctive exotic sound. B
  169. Benji Kaplan: Meditações No Violão (2011, Circo Mistico): Guitarist, from New York, visited Brazil in 2003 and got into the music. Second album, following a CDR in 2007. Solo guitar, 4 of 14 songs having "choro" in the title. Sounds very deeply Brazilian to me, soothing and enchanting. B+(*)
  170. Kaze: Rafale (2010 [2011], Libra): New Satoko Fujii-Natsuki Tamura group, a quartet with Christian Pruvost adding a second trumpet and Peter Orins on drums. The latter two are from France. Pruvost has one album; Orins, as far as I can tell, none under his own name, but he wrote 3 of 6 pieces (Fujii 2, Tamura 1). No dueling among the trumpets. In most cases one takes a high road while the other goes low, with much of the album winding up in the dirt. The exception is the final cut called "Blast" where everyone is cranking. B+(**)
  171. Paul Kikuchi: Portable Sanctuary Vol. 1 (2009-10 [2011], Present Sounds): Percussionist, based in Seattle, has several recent records. He is rejoined here by trombonist Stuart Dempster, whose concept of "deep listening" -- mostly long, low drones -- is hegemonic here. With some guitar and electronics, and two extra percussionists. Intriguing, but sometimes hard to hear what little is going on. B+(*)
  172. Søren Kjaergaard/Ben Street/Andrew Cyrille: Femklang (2011, ILK): Pianist, b. 1978 in Denmark; co-founded the label, has a dozen or so albums since 2001. This is the third with Street (bass) and Cyrille (drums). B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  173. Jan Klare/Jeff Platz/Meinrad Kneer/Bill Elgart: Modern Primitive (2010 [2011], Evil Rabbit): Klare plays alto sax/clarinet/flute, has four albums since 2001; Platz guitar; has a couple albums; Kneer double bass, one previous album; and Elgart drums, also with a couple. Not quite a supergroup, but finely balanced for jousting, the guitar throwing sax-like leads as well as rolling with the rhythm, such as it is. B+(**)
  174. AJ Kluth's Aldric: Anvils and Broken Bells (2010 [2011], OA2): Tenor saxophonist, based in Chicago. Second album. Group is electric -- electric guitar ("many buttons & knobs"), electric bass, with both Kluth and trumpeter James Davis credited with effects. Fusion, I suppose, but not a throwback to the 1970s jazz fusion stuff (though maybe Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath): dense sheets of sound, heavy on the heavy, occasional fast breaks. B+(*)
  175. Itai Kriss: The Shark (2010 [2011], Avenue K): Flute player, b. in Israel, seems to be based in New York. First album, although he's also done something with a Latin group called Cachimba Inolvidable. Mostly quartet with Aaron Goldberg on piano, Omer Avital on bass, and Eric McPherson on drums; adds John Ellis's tenor sax for one cut, Avishai Cohen's trumpet for two, the latter carrying the day. The flute is bright and lively in a '50s boppish way, but it's still just a flute. B
  176. Oliver Lake & Jahi Sundance: Lakes at the Stone (2008 [2011], Passin Thru): U [Rhapsody]
  177. Lama: Oneiros (2011, Clean Feed): Trumpet-bass-drums trio; respectively, Susana Santos Silva (b. 1979), Gonçalo Almeida, and Greg Smith. Santos Silva has a record (Devil's Dress) and a few side roles, including EMJO. Almeida wrote 6 of 8 pieces -- one each for the others. Dense, heavy, bunched-up in the lower registers, doesn't move much but goes where it wants. B+(*)
  178. Travis Laplante: Heart Protector (2011, Skirl): Tenor saxophonist, one of two saxes in the free noise band Little Women -- the other is Darius Jones, who makes better albums on his own. First album under his own name, solo; starts with long obscene drones, eventually working up some patterns. B+(*)
  179. Le Boeuf Brothers: In Praise of Shadows (2011, 19/8): Twins Remy Le Boeuf (alto sax, bass clarinet, tenor sax) and Pascal Le Boeuf (piano), lead a New York group with Mike Ruby (tenor sax), Linda Oh (bass), Henry Cole (drums), slipping in Nir Felder's guitar for one song, with Adria Le Boeuf doing "ambient vocals" on another, Pascal singing one, and a string quartet somewhere. Attempts to draw together various strands into "a rich brand of modern jazz"; has its moments, but sometimes when you try to be cleverly eclectic you wind up with a mish mash. B
  180. Adia Ledbetter: Take 2: Rendezvous With Yesterday (2010 [2011], Jazzijua): Singer, from Durham, NC, based in New York. Second album, mostly standards but she writes some around the edges, and claims two songs whole. I hear a touch of Billie Holiday on "Darn That Dream" but later on it's gone. At one point breaks into a soliloquy on how wonderful her future is that starts with "Obama is president, and the Steelers just won the Super Bowl" -- caught me off guard as I was writing a long post at the time on how poorly Obama has performed as president. She does have a bright future, or would if the country did. B+(*)
  181. Mike LeDonne: Keep the Faith (2011, Savant): Organ player, one of the better ones around, leading an all-star group -- Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Joe Farnsworth (drums) -- all with a lot of practice doing this sort of thing. Very hot, of course, but they've managed to burn the essence out of what used to be called soul jazz. When people would talk about, oh, Jack McDuff or Charles Earland or Groove Holmes "burnin'" what they meant was more like smoldering than flames jumping this way and that. B+(*)
  182. Helge Lien Trio: Natsukashii (2010 [2011], Ozella): Pianist, from Norway; fourteen albums since 2000, including some as Tri O Trang (a piano-sax-tuba trio) and HERO (piano-sax duo), but mostly trio records with this same group since 2001: Frode Berg on bass, Knut Aalefjaer on drums. My copy has a sticker with a quote from Jazzwise: "Lien creates music of unexpected depth and slow burn intensity." That is precisely correct -- I would add something about the rumbling of the undercarriage, and point out that he's closer to Jarrett than to most of ECM's northern tier pianists. B+(**)
  183. Lim: Lim With Marc Ducret (2010 [2011], Kopasetic): AMG files this under a French "hardcore rapper" who likes his upper case ("LIM") and has titles like Triples Violences Urbaines, Le Maxi Délinquant, and Voyoucratie -- an SFFR, I'd say, but a miss here. This group is a Swedish sax trio preferring lower case ("lim"), led by Henrik Frisk (various saxes, writes all the songs), with David Carlsson (electric bass) and Peter Nilsson (drums). The three play an admirable brand of free jazz where the rhythm section keeps everything interesting. Ducret is a French guitarist who's played most notably with Tim Berne, which is to say he's right at home here, always quick to zag when the sax zigs. A- [Rhapsody]
  184. Lisa Lindsley: Everytime We Say Goodbye (2010 [2011], self-released): Standards singer, b. in Ogden, UT; shares birthday with Sarah Vaughan but doesn't disclose the year -- far enough back to have raised and home schooled three daughters. Based in Bay Area. First album. Also has an acting resume, but nothing I recognize. Backed here by piano (George Mesterhazy) and bass (Fred Randolf). The lack of drums signals a desire to take these songs slow and easy, which may (or may not) be your idea of sultry. Didn't make much of an impression on me until she changed the pace with a bright and chipper "It's Only a Paper Moon." After that the slow treatment on "Why Don't You Do Right" did take on a smoky air, but "The Girl From Ipanema" felt belabored. B
  185. Steve Lipman: There's a Song in My Heart (2010-11 [2011], Locomotion): Sinatra without the voice -- what, the hat isn't enough? Good thing he kept his day job: a dental practice in Windsor, CT. On the other hand, his band -- no one I've heard of, although the type is so illegible it's hard to make out any names -- swings gracefully, and his overbite has a certain comic charm. When Google offered a squiggle on "a comic career" I entertained the possibility of a put-on, but turns out there's another Steve Lipman, who got his start during the ancien regime, offering: "I'm 11 years old, and I've learned to tie my shoes really well. So if President Bush ever comes to town, I'll teach him too." B
  186. Harold Lopez Nussa Trio: El País de las Maravillas (2010 [2011], World Village): Full name: Harold López-Nussa Torres. Born and based in Havana, Cuba, although this, his fourth album since 2007, was recorded in France. Mostly piano trio, plus sax (David Sanchez) on 4 of 11 tracks. Definitely has that Cuban kick to the piano. B+(**) [advance]
  187. Mark Alban Lotz & Istak Köpek: Istanbul Improv Sessions May 4th (2010 [2011], Evil Rabbit): Flute player, b. 1963, Dutch but grew up in Thailand and Uganda. AMG credits him with six albums since 1994 -- certainly an undercount, although I'm at a loss as how to sort the 35 albums he lists on his website (I'd certainly credit him with the six albums by Lotz of Music, but his role in Cachao Sounds: La Descarga Continua is likely minor). Here he plays with Turkish group Islak Köpek (two tenor saxes, guitar, cello, and laptop; three names look Turkish and two Anglo). Lotz ranges from piccolo to bass flute, and the latter gets a lot of use here. Considerable sonic interest here, especially when they get loud and dense, which is their preferred mode -- although improv being improvised they sometimes swing and miss. B+(**)
  188. Duda Lucena Quartet: Live (2011, Borboleta): Guitarist-singer-songwriter from Recife, Brazil; based in Charleston, SC, of all places. Wrote most of his previous album, but only one song here ("Sol" -- title song of said album), opting instead for the standards: Jobim, Djavan, Donato, Veloso, Gil. Quartet includes piano, bass, drums -- no one I recognize, but for all I know they could be big names in Charleston. Loose, informal, leader certainly knows his stuff. B+(*)
  189. Vincent Lyn: Heaven Bound (2011, Budo): Pianist, first album, describes it as "cool jazz with a mix of classical and bossa nova." Has a longer career as an actor and stunt man, especially in Hong Kong martial arts films -- website has a lot of pics of him handling swords. Group includes guitar, sax/flute, bass, drums, percussion, and Fernanda Capela singing the bossa nova-oriented pieces, while the classical bits (Rachmaninoff, Satie, Piero Domenico Paradisi) center on the piano. It's all rather genteel, not especially interesting as jazz but pleasant in a nicely rounded way. B+(*)
  190. Bob Mamet Trio: Impromptu (2010, Counterpoint): Pianist, cut three albums 1994-97 which gave him something of a rep for crossover or pop jazz (AMG: "pop-jazz with a brain"). This is his first album since, a straight acoustic piano trio with Darek Oles[kiewicz] on bass and Joe La Barbera on drums, all original pieces. Bright, lively, accessible without falling into any of the usual pop jazz ruts. B+(**)
  191. René Marie: Black Lace Freudian Slip (2011, Motéma Music): Singer, b. 1955, cut her first album in 2000 after raising a couple of kids. I belatedly checked out her second, the Penguin Guide crown-winning Vertigo, just before this one, with its striking standards interpretations, guest horns, swing and scat. None of that is particulary evident here, where she wrote 10 (of 13) songs, works with a rhythm section I've never heard of, has unknowns guest on two songs (harmonica and guitar). Still, even without the scat she's are remarkable singer. Too early to tell about the songs (e.g., "Rim Shot"), but the title is a salacious opener, and "Tired" is a blues that buttons the record down tight. B+(***) [Rhapsody]
  192. Denman Maroney: Double Zero (2008 [2011], Porter): Plays hyperpiano, his term for a piano that is played not just from the keyboard but by using various implements to strike, bow, or otherwise agitate the strings. The effect is to add elements of bass (or higher-pitched string instruments) and percussion, some in combination with the conventional piano sounds, some instead of. Solo hyperpiano here, one titled piece in nine parts; runs on and doesn't sustain interest although it has its moments, especially when the inner and outer approaches work in tandem. B+(*)
  193. Jessie Marquez: All I See Is Sky (2011, Carena): Singer, from Eugene, OR (as near as I can figure out). Father grew up in Cuba; she visited Cuba in 1996 and wound up recording her first album there. This is her third, counting one with guitarist Mike Denny's name also on the cover. She has co-credits on 7 of 13 songs; sings and writes a more in Spanish than in English, also taking the Jobim closer in Spanish. Rafael Trujillo's percussion keeps the vibe going, and John Nastos adds some tasty sax, then gets the right effect switching to flute on the Jobim. B+(*)
  194. Wynton Marsalis/Eric Clapton: Play the Blues: Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center (2011, Warner Brothers): [Rhapsody]
  195. Will Martina: The Dam Levels (2011, self-released): Cellist, born and raised in Canberra, Australia; based in New York. Has a few side credits, including with Burnt Sugar. First album, trio with Jason Lindner on piano and Richie Barshay on drums -- both adding significantly which keeps this very balanced. B+(**)
  196. Nicolas Masson: Departures (2010 [2011], Fresh Sound New Talent): A prodigious, important label; unfortunately, I've only gotten their work via artist publicists for the last couple years. Masson is from Switzerland, b. 1972, plays tenor sax here, and bass clarinet elsewhere. Fourth album since 2001, a quartet with Ben Monder (guitar), Patrice Moret (bass), and Ted Poor (drums). Postbop, sophisticated and slippery, as is Masson's tenor tone, the steel framework provided more by Monder's guitar. B+(**)
  197. Marilyn Mazur: Celestial Circle (2010 [2011], ECM): Percussionist, born in US, raised in Denmark, assembled this group as artist-in-residence at Norway's Molde Jazz Festival in 2008: Josefine Cronholm (voice), John Taylor (piano), Anders Jormin (double bass). Mazur's percussion is delicate and tends to get lost, although the vocals and everything else compete to be unobtrusive. B+(*)
  198. Christian McBride Big Band: The Good Feeling (2011, Mack Avenue): One of the unwritten rules of jazz these days seems to be that everyone wants to (and gets to) lead a big band sooner or later. McBride's reportedly been working on his charts for years, but his ideas are pretty stock: conventional five reeds (plus Loren Schoenberg on two cuts), four trumpets, four trombones, piano, bass, and drums (no guitar), with singer Melissa Walker featured on a few cuts. Fine band, a mix of name soloists and guys who show up in everyone's big band. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  199. Christian McBride: Conversations With Christian (2011, Mack Avenue): Thirteen songs, each a duet between the bassist and someone else: four singers (Angelique Kidjo, Sting, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Gina Gershon), five pianists (Eddie Palmieri, Dr. Billy Taylor, Hank Jones, George Duke, Chick Corea), Regina Carter (violin), Russel Malone (guitar), and Ron Blake (tenor sax). No dates, but Jones and Taylor died in 2010. It's hard to get any sort of consistency or momentum out of this sort of thing, especially when the constant is the bass, but the vocalists are spread out, the piano-bass connecting tissue rather than filler. Also helps that McBride talks along on two vocal cuts, drawing Gershon out and keeping Bridgewater from falling over the top. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  200. Bill McHenry: Ghosts of the Sun (2006 [2011], Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, leading a quartet with Ben Monder (guitar), Reid Anderson (bass), and Paul Motian (drums). Postbop, a bit off center, probably because that's all the foundation the drummer provides. B+(*)
  201. Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood: MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind (2011, Indirecto, 2CD): I don't see much evidence of minds changing, here or elsewhere. John Medeski, Chris Wood, and Billy Martin were probably more responsible than any other group for the resurgence of groove-heavy funk in the 1990s. True, if you listen to Martin's percussion discs and follow Medeski's side projects you'll run into some more adventurous music, but they always seem to return to form together. Guitarist John Scofield is a natural fit: he gives them an elegant lead instrument, and they rival his best organ groups from the 1980s. Plus, going live means you get to recycle. B+(**)
  202. Susie Meissner: I'm Confessin' (2010 [2011], Lydian Jazz): Standards singer, grew up in Buffalo, grandmother played stride piano which led her to Ellington, Gershwin, Porter (all represented here, Duke twice). Second album. Nice voice, great songs, band swings, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon earns his special guest status on his four tracks. B+(*)
  203. Francisco Mela & Cuban Safari: Tree of Life (2010 [2011], Half Note): Drummer, b. 1968 in Bayamo, Cuba. Third album since 2005. The first two were very impressive, but I've played this four times now and already lost my thread of thought. Could do without the vocals (Esperanza Spalding), for one thing. B+(*)
  204. Pat Metheny: What's It All About (2011, Nonesuch): Solo guitar, covering songs mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, probably things that strike a nostalgic note to a kid from Missouri born in 1954, but as one born in 1950 in Kansas I have to say that several are songs I'd just as soon never hear again. He does do some interesting things with them -- only "Cherish" resists the treatment. B+(*)
  205. Metta Quintet: Big Drum/Small World (2011, Jazzreach): A project of Jazzreach, a 501(c)(3) non-profit "dedicated to the promotion, performance, creation and teaching of jazz music." Third album I'm aware of under this name: bassist Joshua Ginsburg and drummer Hans Schuman are the constants, with piano and horns rotating -- currently, Marcus Strickland (tenor and soprano sax), Greg Ward (alto sax), and David Bryant (piano). They play five pieces: one by Strickland, the others by name players not in the band -- Omer Avital, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Yosvany Terry, and Miguel Zenón. First-rate postbop, well within the lines but I suppose you have to be when trying to be educational. B+(**)
  206. Nicole Mitchell: Awakening (2011, Delmark): Flute player, b. 1967 in Syracuse, NY; grew up in California; moved to Chicago in 1990 and got involved in AACM, becoming co-president in 2006. Tenth album since 2001. Has won Rising Star Flute in the Downbeat critics poll several times, and won outright this year, something she'll probably do regularly over the next decade. Most famous flute players are saxophonists slumming -- Frank Wess and James Moody have dominated this category, but Moody died and Wess is nearly 90. Young flautists mostly come up with a rigorous classical background, but Mitchell has her own sound and dynamics, probably drawing on Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill. Still, flute doesn't do much for me, so while she glides over the rhythm I'm more impressed by the band: Jeff Parker on guitar, Harrison Bankhead on bass, and Avreeayl Ra on drums. B+(**)
  207. Silvano Monasterios: Unconditional (2010 [2011], Savant): Pianist, from Caracas, Venezuela; moved to Miami in 1990, where he cut this. Has at least two previous albums. Upbeat, lush -- especially with Troy Roberts' sax running wild -- with more than a little Latin tinge. B+(*)
  208. Martin Moretto: Martin Moretto Quintet (2009 [2011], self-released): Argentine guitarist, based in New York. First album, a quintet with Bill McHenry (tenor sax), Phil Markowitz (piano), Santi Debriano (bass), and Vanderlei Pereira (drums). The guitar is elegant and seductive. Not sure what it means that I can't recall the sax. B+(*)
  209. Carol Morgan Quartet: Blue Glass Music (2011, Blue Bamboo Music): Blue-tinted cover photo too. Trumpet player, from Texas, studied at Juilliard, teaches in New York. Fourth album: quartet with Joel Frahm (tenor sax), Martin Wind (bass), and Matt Wilson (drums). Five covers ranging from Cole Porter to Ornette Coleman, plus a song each from Frahm and Wind. Straight-ahead postbop, nice mix from the horns, strong leads, loses a bit when the tempos slow. B+(**)
  210. Paul Motian: The Windmills of Your Mind (2010 [2011], Winter & Winter): Aside from the intro and its reprise at the end, a very low key standards album, sung in not much more than a whisper by Petra Haden, with guitarist Bill Frisell slipping in fine touches, Thomas Morgan steady on bass, and the leader doing whatever it is he's been doing for fifty-some years now. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  211. Motif: Art Transplant (2011, Clean Feed): Quintet, with Norwegian bassist Ole Morten Vågan (b. 1979) the principal and presumed leader -- the other candidate is the trumpet player noted on the front cover in small print as "(with Axel Dörner)," who wrote one piece. The others are Atle Nymo (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Håvard Wiik (piano, plays in Free Fall with Ken Vandermark), and Håkon Mjåset Johansen (drums). Hard bop lineup, but veers off in various directions: a little industrial noise, some flush piano stretches, horns going off in various directions. B+(*)
  212. Mark Moultrup: Relaxin' . . . On the Edge (2003-10 [2011], Mark Moultrip Music): Keyboardist, vocalist, composer, arranger, originally from Detroit, now Chicago-based. Fifth album since 2001, all but one 2010 cut recorded in 2003. Cover photos from Yosemite. First cut is instrumental, dominated by Chris Collins' edgy postbop sax, not what I was expecting. Second cut took off with post-disco fusion keybs and choral vocals. Third shifted to melodramatic piano measured against the bass. Fifth song offers an ordinary hipster vocal complaining about the overcomplication of ordering coffee. Then back to more overorchestrated schmaltz. I suppose it says something that he manages most of the mess with his own keyboards. It's rare that one person finds so many distinct ways to make an awful record. D+
  213. Alphonse Mouzon: Angel Face (2011, Tenacious): Drummer, b. 1948 in Charleston, SC; emerged as fusion was picking up steam, playing with Weather Report early on, Larry Coryell's Eleventh House, cutting his own albums for Blue Note in the early 1970s. As things cooled down, launched his own label, Tenacious Records, in 1981, and has at least 14 records since. Never paid much attention to him, so the most striking thing here is the surfeit of riches. He's basically running a quintet here, but at piano he alternates between Cedar Walton and Kenny Barron; at bass Christian McBride and Darek Oleskiewicz; his main trumpet players are Arturo Sandoval and Wallace Roney (Shonzo Ohno gets one cut); the tenor sax slot is shared by Ernie Watts, Don Menza, and Bob Mintzer, with Antoine Roney and Charles Owens getting one cut each. These are guys who can break out and do something interesting, and sometimes they do, but mostly they burnish the leader's painless, pleasant funk groove. B+(*)
  214. Mozik (2010 [2011], self-released): Boston group, led by Brazilians Gilson Schachnik (keyboards) and Mauricio Zottarelli (drums), with flute (Yulia Musayelan), guitar (Gustavo Assis-Brasil), and bass (Fernando Huergo). Zottarelli insists he didn't like Brazilian music until he moved to Boston. I detect an air of respectful reunion, winning out over a mischievous desire to mix things up. Three Jobims, one each from Monk and Hancock, two originals (by Schachnik), one more ("Canto das Tres Raças"). B+(*)
  215. Josh Nelson: Discoveries (2011, Steel Bird): Pianist, from Los Angeles, fifth album since 2004. Wrote all but one of the pieces, naming them for things like "Dirigibles" and "Tesla Coil" -- with featured quotes inside the package from Mark Twain and H.G. Wells, his interest in new things is curiously dated. Group is spread out with three horns, but the most satisfying parts lead with the piano. B+(*)
  216. Richard Nelson Large Ensemble: Pursuit (2011, Heliotrope): Guitarist, teaches at University of Maine at Augusta, has a couple previous albums. The Large Ensemble is a 13-piece group -- 4 reeds (including flute), 4 brass, viola, cello, guitar, bass, drums -- that does the five-part title piece. The album finishes with two 9+ minute quintet pieces. I didn't get much out of either, possibly as much due to recording dynamics (i.e., lack of) as of the music itself, which at least makes room for the guitar. B-
  217. The New Universe Music Festival 2010 (2010 [2011], Abstract Logix, 2CD): John McLaughlin's label puts on a show. In recent years he's dropped the Mahavishnu title, returned to hard fusion, and grayed up so elegantly that his picture on the cover, well except for the guitar, looks like he just stepped out of a painting of the Founding Father. He gets the last set here, along with Zakir Hussain on tabla, stealing some of his thunder. The other groups are nearly all guitar-keyb-bass-drum outfits, with one violin, and percussionist Arto Tunçboyaciyan slipped in. The guitarist all take their cues from McLaughlin, the others rarely straying from early 1970s fusion icons. The "new universe" sounds much like an old and mostly disparaged one, but they're so set on making it work you have to give them some credit. I haven't seen this much purism since the Dixieland revival of the 1950s. B+(**)
  218. The Nice Guy Trio: Sidewalks and Alleys/Walking Music (2010 [2011], Porto Franco): Darren Johnston (trumpet), Rob Reich (accordion), Daniel Fabricant (bass). Second group album, with Reich composing the first five-part title suite and Johnston the latter, also in five parts. The accordion gives them an old world feel, part chamber music but earthier. I liked their first record quite a bit, but have trouble here with the added weight of string trio -- tends to overwhelm the former piece, fitting more discreetly into the latter. B+(*)
  219. Oz Noy: Twisted Blues Volume 1 (2010 [2011], Abstract Logix): Guitarist, originally from Israel, now based in New York, fifth album since 2005. Fusion guy, likes his lines long and loud, knows a few blues licks, but still needs to work on that twisty stuff. B
  220. Bill O'Connell: Triple Play Plus Three (2010 [2011], Zoho): Pianist, b. 1953, studied at Oberlin; has eight or so records, with an early one in 1978, another in 1993, the rest since 2001 as he moved more into Latin jazz. I was tempted to attribute this to Bill O'Connell Plus Three, but changed my mind after checking and finding another Triple Play album. The core group is O'Connell and Richie Flores (congas). The "plus three" are Paquito D'Rivera (clarinet), Dave Samuels (vibes), and Dave Valentin (flute), who take turns filling out a trio. The rotation avoids any ruts, but I rather prefer the guestless stretches where O'Connell pushes harder and breaks up his flow. B+(**)
  221. Ocote Soul Sounds: Taurus (2011, ESL Music): Brooklyn Latin funk group, led by Martin Perna (flutes, saxes, shekere, quijada, tambourine, melodica, vocals, guitar, bass), a spinoff from Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. Fourth album. Adrian Quesada (guitar, bass, electric piano, organ, background vocals) was on the masthead the last two albums; he continues here, but has receded typographically but remains co-leader. Grooveful, politically astute. B+(**)
  222. Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: 40 Acres and a Burro (2010 [2011], Zoho): Pianist, took over his father's big band (Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra) in 1995. AMG credits him with seven albums since 1999, missing two ALJO discs, and I'm not sure what else. This combines O'Farrill's quintet, the ALJO big band, and a raft of guests -- Paquito D'Rivera, David Bixler, and Heather Martin Bixler get pics on the back cover. Three O'Farrill originals, including "A Wise Latina" and the title track. Grossly cluttered, except for rare moments when the rhythm breaks through, as in the pieces by Pixinguinha and Astor Piazzolla -- the latter even puts the horns to good use. B-
  223. Nils Økland/Sigbjørn Apeland: Lysøen: Hommage à Ole Bull (2010 [2011], ECM): Violinist, b. 1961 in Norway; 4th album since 2004. Apeland plays piano and harmonium in duets, or quite often you only hear one or the other. Ole Bull was a Norwegian violinist and composer from 1810-1880. The music draws on Bull, trad., Edvard Grieg (one piece), and adds four new pieces (one each, two together). Not much momentum, but immediate and arresting. B+(**)
  224. Olavi Trio & Friends: Triologia (2008 [2011], TUM): No idea how common a name Olavi is in Finland, but drummer Olavi Luohivouri rounded up two more for this project: Teppo Olavi Hauta-aho (bass), and Jari Olavi Hongisto (trombone). All, in the great Sun Ra tradition, also play percussion, with bird whistles, wood blocks, musical boxes, and toy instruments prominently featured. The "friends" show up on two tracks each: Verneri Pohjola (trumpet, also played with Louhivouri in Ilmilekki Quartet), Juhani Aaltonen (tenor sax, has been active since 1970 and should be a household name by now), and Kalle Kalima (electric guitar, had a recent album on TUM). Combination tends toward the murky side, although every now and then you'll hear something interesting. B+(*)
  225. Harold O'Neal: Marvelous Fantasy (2011, Smalls): Pianist, second album, had a fine mainstream trio last time, shoots for a solo this time. Wrote all the pieces. Trends soft and melodic, probably his idea of marvelous, maybe even of fantasy. B+(**)
  226. Oregon: In Stride (2010, CAM Jazz): Quartet, founded in 1970 as some sort of world-jazz fusion band. The most distinctive member, at least up to his death in 1984, was Collin Walcott, who played sitar, percussion, all sorts of things. The other three remain to this day: Paul McCandless (oboe, English horn, various saxes and clarinets), Ralph Towner (guitar), and Glen Moore (bass). The group disbanded after Walcott's death; the other three regrouping in 1987 with Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu, and now carry on with drummer Mark Walker. This is their 28th album. I've only heard a few at both ends of their career. Horns trend toward the ethereal, guitar toward the sublime, pulse and beat move along, with nothing especially standing out. B+(**)
  227. The Oscuro Quintet: Music for Tango Ensemble (2010 [2011], Big Round): Based in Philadelphia: Alban Bailly (guitar), June Bender (violin), Benjamin Blazer (bass), Shinjoo Cho (accordion, bandoneon), and Thomas Lee (piano). Bailly composed the five-part "Five Procrastinations"; the rest draws on Argentine masters. AMG (and others) tend to file this as classical, probably for the same things that turn me off. Still has its charms -- "oddly OK" was the judgment from the other room. B+(*)
  228. Christian Pabst Trio: Days of Infinity (2010 [2011], Challenge): Pianist, b. 1984 in Germany, moved to Netherlands in 2006, studying at Conservatory of Amsterdam. First album. Six (of ten) cuts are piano trio with David Andres on bass and Andreas Klein on drums. The other four add trumpet player Gerard Prescencer. The piano is vibrant, mostly upbeat. The trumpet and flugelhorn offer a nice change of pace. B+(**)
  229. Gretchen Parlato: The Lost and Found (2010 [2011], ObliqSound): Singer, b. 1976, third album since 2005, writes most of her own material. Has a slight whisper to her voice which is generally appealing but isn't enough to carry a song a cappella (as she attempts in "Alô, Alô"), so a good band should help. She has Taylor Eigsti (piano), Derrick Hodge (bass), Kendrick Scott (drums), and sometimes Dayne Stephens (tenor sax), all toned down to fit her demure style. One cut that works: "All That I Can Say." B- [Rhapsody]
  230. Beata Pater: Blue (2011, B&B): Singer, born and grew up in Poland, moved to US 15-plus years ago. Fifth album since 1993. Most of the pieces are originals by her and/or piano-organ player Mark Little -- the opener is "Afro Blue" (Mongo Santamaria), closer "Blue in Green" (Miles Davis), with two more pieces by Krzysztof Komeda in the middle. Voice has a thin, unreal quality, indulging in a lot of scat. Gets a bit better toward the end when the beat picks up. B
  231. Nicholas Payton: Bitches (2011, In + Out): Trumpet player from New Orleans, solidly grounded in the tradition, which got him a gig with Kansas City, a Louis Armstrong tribute, and a super record with Doc Cheatham, but his more modern moves haven't worked out as well -- some jazztronica, here a move into vocal-heavy 1970s-retro r&b. Like Stevie Wonder, he plays all of the instruments, leaning heavily on the keybs, although only his trumpet remains distinctive. His croon ranges from competent to annoying, occasionally supplemented by guest females -- not clear if they are the intended subject of the title, or some other form of malapropism. B [Rhapsody]
  232. Dida Pelled: Plays and Sings (2010 [2011], Red): Singer-guitarist, from Israel, based in New York, first album, recorded in Brooklyn but released on an Italian label associated with producer (trumpet player on two cuts) Fabio Morgera. With Tal Ronen on bass, Gregory Hutchinson on drums, and Roy Hargrove playing trumpet on three tracks. Standards, at least if you count Wes Montgomery, Horace Silver, and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (a Frankie Valli song I definitely count). Engagingly ordinary voice, holds her own on a couple of long guitar solos. B+(**)
  233. Oscar Peñas: From Now On (2009 [2011], Bju'ecords): Guitarist, b. 1972 in Barcelona, Spain; attended Berklee, based in New York. Has two previous Fresh Sound New Talent albums. This is a quartet with Dan Blake on tenor and soprano sax, Moto Fukushima on electric bass, and Richie Barshay on drums, with a couple guests here and there. His guitar builds on all that classical heritage, and the soprano in particular is a close harmonic mate. B+(**)
  234. Oscar Perez Nuevo Comienzo: Afropean Affair (2011, Chandra): Pianist, born in New York, father left Cuba in 1966. Studied at University of North Florida and Queens College. Second album, the first his subsequent group name. With Greg Glassman (trumpet), Stacy Dillard (tenor/soprano sax), Charenee Wade (vocals), bass, drums, percussion. Ends with the three part "The Afropean Suite" but all the pieces are flowing suite-like things, the voice adding an unsettling aura. B
  235. Enrico Pieranunzi Latin Jazz Quintet: Live at Birdland (2008 [2011], CAM Jazz): Pianist, b. 1949 in Rome, Italy, has 30+ records since 1975 -- one of the major jazz pianists of his generation. For this Latin Jazz project, he wrote 6 of 7 pieces (two with "Danza" in the title, one "Choro"), and added two horns to his trio with John Patitucci and Antonio Sanchez: Diego Urcola (trumpet) and Yosvany Terry (alto & soprano sax, plus a percussion credit). B+(**)
  236. Jean-Michel Pilc: Essential (2011, Motéma): Pianist, b. 1960 in Paris, France; at least 14 records since 1989, most from 2000 on. Solo piano, roughly half originals and half covers; not as fast and furious as some of his trios, but interesting, easiest to factor on the tortured originals. B+(**)
  237. Pilc Moutin Hoenig: Threedom (2011, Motema): Piano trio: Jean-Michel Pilc (piano), François Moutin (bass), Ari Hoenig (drums). Pilc, b. 1960 in Paris, France, seemed to explode on the scene in 2000 with a rapid fire series of fast and fierce albums. I don't get the same sense here: not just that he's slowed down but that he's working inside the pieces -- needless to say, his sensitivity, touch, and wit are clearest on the half he didn't write. B+(*)
  238. Potsa Lotsa: The Complete Works of Eric Dolphy (2009-10 [2011], Jazzwerkstatt, 2CD): Complete comes to 27 pieces, dispatched in 95 minutes over two discs. The group is led by alto saxophonist Silke Eberhard, who arranged the pieces for two brass (Nikolaus Neuser on trumpet, Gerhard Gschlobl on trombone) and two saxes (Patrick Braun on tenor, Eberhard on alto). Dolphy usually played with other horns, so there is some similarity, and the pieces to managed to evoke all facets of his range. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  239. Mike Prigodich: A Stitch in Time (2011, Mexican Mocha Music): Pianist, electric keybs as well as acoustic; studied at Wheaton, worked in Chicago, moved to Portland in 1998. Credits "becoming a cancer patient in 2008" as a wake-up call, pushing him to compose more, leading to this first album. Calls his core group MPEG (Melz/Prigodich/Erskine Group), with Reinhardt Melz on drums, Damian Erskine on bass. Saxophonist John Nastos, guitarist Brandon Woody, and percussionist Rafael Trujillo also get credits on the front cover, and a couple others on one or two -- Tim Jensen gets a flute feature. Seems like this gets tripped up in a couple of spots, rare breaks in the upbeat funk attack. I've always been a sax fan, and Nastos is consistently tasty here, but the strongest bit is a guitar solo from the otherwise underutilized Woody. B+(*)
  240. Scott Ramminger: Crawstickers (2011, Arbor Lane Music): Singer, plays tenor and other saxes, from DC area, wrote his songs on his debut album: is basically an r&b guy, upbeat, appreciates the finer things in life, which include gumbo, cheap beer, and that rumba beat. B+(*)
  241. Phil Ranelin: Perseverance (2011, Wide Hive): Trombonist, b. 1940 in Indianapolis. A founder of the Tribe, in Detroit in the early 1970s, and much later Build an Ark in Los Angeles, community-centric groups which bridge avant-garde and populist sensibilities. Front cover proclaims: "With Henry Franklin and Big Black"; Franklin plays bass, was also b. 1940, has a couple dozen albums and a hundred side-credits but isn't a name I recognize; Big Black (Danny Ray) plays conga, is even older (b. 1934), is someone I've run across a few times before. Both have sweet spots here, but so does everyone else, with Kamasi Washington (tenor sax) and Mahesh Balasooriya (piano) most prominent, also Louis Van Taylor (bass clarinet, alto flute), Tony Austin (drums), and a couple more percussionists. Ranelin wrote all the pieces, and sets the pace, his trombone leads rough and rugged but pitched into grooves, with vamps all around. My kind of party. A- [Rhapsody]
  242. Mark Rapp's Melting Pot: Good Eats (2010 [2011], Dinemec): Trumpet player, from South Carolina, moved to New Orleans and hooked up with Elis Marsalis; now seems to split his time between New York and Geneva, Switzerland. Has a previous album which should be in my queue somewhere -- let that be a cautionary tale for folks who send me advances only; also The Strayhorn Project with Don Braden's name listed first. The meltdown here is part soul jazz (Joe Kaplowitz on organ and Ahmad Mansour on guitar), wrapped around some bebop-boogaloo (6 of the first 7 songs are by Lou Donaldson) with a funk chaser ("Everything I Do Is Gonna Be Funky," Quincy Jones' "Streetbeater," and closing with an irresistibly bouncy "The Glory of Love." Rapp wrote the title cut. Also says here he plays didgeridoo, too. Don Brade guests on five cuts, tenor sax and alto flute. B+(**)
  243. Enrico Rava Quintet: Tribe (2010 [2011], ECM): Trumpet player, b. 1943 in Italy, built a reputation on the avant-garde in the 1970s but his ECM records have lately slowed down, trying to make up in intensity. Quintet includes Gianluca Petrella, the young trombonist who got a lot of attention when he was briefly on Blue Note, as well as Giovanni Guidi on piano, bass and drums, and guest guitar on four cuts. B+(*)
  244. Red Hot + Rio 2 (2011, Entertainment One, 2CD): Twenty-some years after the first Red Hot + Blue record turned AIDS-fighting pop stars onto Cole Porter in one of the better songwriter-tribute records ever, I lost track of the series fifteen years ago when the first Red Hot + Rio came out. This one doubles down, swelling to two discs to give extra heft to its second volume status. No lack of authentic Brazilian stars here -- Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé, Joyce Moreno, Os Mutantes, also Seu Jorge, Carlhinos Brown, Bebel Gilberto -- often paired with well-meaning Americans ranging from David Byrne to Aloe Blacc, Of Montreal, and Beirut. I don't have full credits, but the rhythm section more often than not saves the show. Give it some time and you'll find some gems, like the one attributed to Toshiyuki Yasuda ("Aguas de Março"). B+(*) [advance]
  245. Ed Reed: Born to Be Blue (2010 [2011], Blue Shorts): Standards singer, b. 1929, grew up in Watts, but didn't get around to cutting a record until 2006 -- spent too much time in San Quentin, for one thing, even if it did give him the chance to sing with Art Pepper. Starts off slow, especially on the title track. Does get some help from Anton Schwartz's tenor sax, and gets more comfortable bouncing between vocalese and Joe Turner, but not much. B
  246. Rufus Reid & Out Front: Hues of a Different Blue (2010 [2011], Motéma): Bassist, prominent enough that he gets his name as the leader of a piano trio -- the pianist in question is Steve Allee, who has a few records under his own name, as does Brazilian drumer Duduka Da Fonseca. Allee is sharp here, and Reid gets in some solos. He's also lined up guests to mix it up on five tracks (if you believe the credits, which I don't): various mixes of Toninho Horta (guitar), Freddie Hendrix (trumpet), JD Allen (tenor sax), and Bobby Watson (credited with tenor sax, but must be alto; Watson also appears uncounted on "These Foolish Things": a highlight). B+(*)
  247. Greg Reitan: Daybreak (2011, Sunnyside): Pianist, originally from Seattle, based in Los Angeles. Third album, all trios with Jack Daro on bass and Dean Koba on drums. Wrote most of twelve songs, but covers Shorter, Zeitlin, Jarrett, and Evans. B+(*)
  248. Nadav Remez: So Far (2010 [2011], Bju'ecords): Guitarist, from Israel, studied at Berklee and New England Conservatory. First album, with alto sax/clarine (James Wylie), tenor sax (Steve Brickman), trumpet on two tracks (Itamar Borochov), piano (Shai Maestro), bass (Avri Borochov), and drums (Ziv Ravitz). Wrote 8 of 9 pieces, the other by trad. The large group tends to crowd him out, but "The Miracle" is an exception where he builds up solid, solemn force. B+(*)
  249. The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Montreal Parade (2011, 482 Music): Dave Rempis, best known as the Vandermark 5's junior saxophonist, leads, the group name reflecting that the quartet has two drummers (Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly). Even with double the drum solos, Rempis is fast and furious out front. The other member is bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, of Vandermark's School Days project (and many more). Two long pieces, free jazz blowouts. (Wonder whether another spin or two would push it over the top -- this is the third straight RPQ album with the same grade, which makes me suspect at least one should go higher.) B+(***) [Rhapsody]
  250. Sonny Rollins: On Impulse!/There Will Never Be Another You (1965 [2011], Impulse): The most imposing tenor saxophonist to emerge in the 1950s -- Saxophone Colossus was an album title that turned into his business card -- began and ended the 1960s on hiatus leaving two sets of work to show for the decade, 1962-64 on RCA and 1965-66 on Impulse!
    On Impulse! (1965): His first album on the label is his most typical, a quartet with Ray Bryant on piano, turning five standards into springboards for stellar tenor sax solos. A
    There Will Never Be Another You (1965): A warm-up session, I suppose, recorded a month earlier with two dupes and left in the can until 1978, some cuts fade out a bit, but Tommy Flanagan's piano stands out, and Rollins can't be denied. A- A-
  251. Florencia Ruiz: Luz de la Noche (Light of the Night) (2011, Adventure Music): Argentine diva, or maybe I just mean torch singer, projects a lot of drama and emotion, although for all I know she could be as vapid as Enya -- a comparison I've seen, though meant to be more flattering. Hugo Fattoroso (piano) and Jaques Morelembaum (cello) are cited as "featuring" -- must be big names in Argentina, because they only show up for one and two cuts here. B+(*)
  252. Samo Salamon Trio: Almost Almond (2006 [2011], Sanje): Guitarist, b. 1978 in Yugoslavia, now Slovenia. Twelve albums since 2002, counting one as Ansasa Trio. Trio with Drew Gress on bass and Tom Rainey on drums. I've mostly heard him with saxophone in the past -- cf. Two Hours, with Tony Malaby -- where he fights his way to the front, but starting out there he's less aggressive here, steely at best, slipping into a crafted eloquence near the end. B+(**)
  253. Dino Saluzzi: Navidad de los Andes (2010 [2011], ECM): Argentine bandoneon player, b. 1935, twelfth album for ECM since 1982. Or maybe more: AMG has lately developed a bad habit of misfiling records under second or third artists, so they attribute this one to cellist Anja Lechner. Third artist here is Felix Saluzzi (tenor sax, clarinet): he makes very little impact here, but is a plus when he does. "Christmas in the Andes": not insuferably Xmas-y; in fact, all Saluzzi originals with a couple of co-credits. Slow, lush sounds in spare arrangements. B
  254. Poncho Sanchez/Terence Blanchard: Chano y Dizzy! (2011, Concord Picante): Reasonable headliners for a recital of a prime slice of jazz history, but Blanchard won't risk losing his cool so has no way of touching Gillespie, and Sanchez couldn't be crazier than Pozo if his life depended on it. Starts with a medley -- "Tin Tin Deo," "Manteca," "Guachi Guaro" -- then "Con Alma" before letting Blanchard and others in the band peddle their wares. Winds up being a real nice groove album, with equally nice ballad spots, not that I understand why. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  255. Pharoah Sanders: Village of the Pharoahs/Wisdom Through Magic (1971-73 [2011], Impulse): Given name Ferrell, tenor saxophonist, joined John Coltrane's on Ascension and broadened his vision, looking to Africa and far beyond.
    Village of the Pharoahs (1971-73): The three-part title piece conjures up a utopian tribalism, roots projected into an ever changing rhythmic unity. Vocalist Sedarius Brown gets a "featuring" credit on the cover, but the vocals just add to the ecstasy, as does the leader's soprano. A-
    Wisdom Through Magic (1973): Variations on a vibe, powerful when it works, and bewildering when it doesn't. B+(**)
  256. Heikki Sarmanto Big Band: Everything Is It (1972 [2011], Porter): Pianist, b. 1939 in Finland, influenced by George Russell, ran an interesting avant-fusion band in the early 1970s, later became artistic director of UMO Jazz Orchestra. His big band is long on reeds (including Eero Koivistoinen and Juhani Aaltonen, names you should know by now), short on brass (three trumpets, two trombones), doubled up on drums. Noisy as these things go, which is fine with me, but the main distinction here is Taru Valjakka's soprano-diva vocals on the "Marat" suite, which I could have done without. B+(*)
  257. Jake Saslow: Crosby Street (2011, 14th Street): Tenor saxophonist, debut album, inventive postbop with a soft edge. With Mike Moreno (guitar) and/or Fabian Alamzan (piano), plus bass (Joe Martin) and drums (Marcus Gilmore). B+(**)
  258. Jonathan Scales: Character Farm & Other Short Stories (2011, Le Rue): Plays steel pan, an instrument common in Trinidad, functions here like vibes in a rhythmic flow of guitar, bass, and percussion. Third album. Attractively packaged in comic book/graphic novel art by Gregory Keyzer. Some guests appearances, adding soprano sax or flute or violin. No words, which is OK by me. B
  259. Scenes: Silent Photographer (2010 [2011], Origin): Trio: guitarist John Stowell, bassist Jeff Johnson, drummer John Bishop. Stowell has long struck me as an interesting, understated stylist, and his records -- both under his own name and as Scenes -- have generally been close to my HM line. This time Johnson outwrote him 4 to 3 -- the other three pieces are by Shorter, Hancock, and Coltrane. B+(*)
  260. Andreas Schmidt/Samuel Rohrer/Thomas Heberer: Pieces for a Husky Puzzle (2009, Jazzwerkstatt): Piano, drums, trumpet respectively. Schmidt was b. 1967, more than a dozen credits start around 1990, hard to tell how many; AMG lists Andreas Schmidt as a classical music vocalist, but that is someone else (b. 1960). Seven cuts, each called "Puzzle Piece" followed by a number. Slow and abstract improvs, thoughtful and brooding (or maybe just droning); doesn't leave the drummer much to do. B+(*) [Rhapsody]
  261. Dred Scott: Prepared Piano (2007-08 [2009], Robertson): Pianist, originally from St. Louis, went to college in Ohio, spent 10 years in Bay Area, then moved to New York in 1999, which makes him how old? Extensive discography on his site goes back to a 1991 record with Anthony Braxton (8+3 Tristano Compositions), but aside from his three trio records I've heard of nothing else he's done. He played drums on that Braxton record -- probably the right orientation for prepared piano ("Funky" sounds like it's mostly percussion). Mostly short pieces, discreet building blocks ready to add up to something. [My impression is that this is being reissued on Ropeadope, but my copy looks like the old, original edition.] B+(**)
  262. Dred Scott Trio: Going Nowhere (2010 [2011], Ropeadope): Can't find any evidence that Dred Scott isn't the pianist's given name. Like his famous namesake he is from St. Louis, but the resemblance ends there. With Ben Rubin on bass and Tony Mason on drums. All originals except for a shrewdly deconstructed "7 Steps to Heaven." I am duly impressed, but don't have much to say. B+(**) [advance]
  263. Shirley Scott: For Members Only/Great Scott!! (1963-64 [2011], Impulse): Organ player, I always figured she learned in church but she cited Jimmy Smith as her inspiration. Best known for working with tenor saxophonists -- Stanley Turrentine, of course, but also Eddie Davis -- but can hold court on her own.
    For Members Only (1963): From when records had two sides, the first with a brass-heavy Oliver Nelson orchestra, the second with her trio; the first a bit anonymous except for the pulsing organ, the latter with Mundell Lowe on guitar a bit deflated. B
    Great Scott!! (1964): Again, one side with Oliver Nelson's orchestra, some reeds added to the brass, the other her trio with Barry Galbraith on guitar. She sings one, but shows little pain. B
  264. Mark Segger Sextet: The Beginning (2010 [2011], 18th Note): Drummer, from Edmonton, now based in Toronto, first album; composes all eight pieces here, for a sextet including trumpet (Jim Lewis), tenor sax/clarinet (Chris Willes), trombone (Heather Segger), piano/melodica (Tania Gill), and bass (Andrew Downing). He calls the pieces "idiosyncratic" with such sources as "soca rhythms, chamber music, and the abstract pointillism of contemporary free improvisation." No doubt about idiosyncratic: slippery postbop, disjointed and improbably reconnected. B+(**)
  265. Sara Serpa: Mobile (2011, Inner Circle Music): Singer, b. 1979 in Portugal, studied at Berklee and New England Conservatory, based in New York. Has a duo album with Ran Blake, at least three under her own name. This one is spare, mostly done with just bass and drums (Ben Street and Ted Poor), with piano added on 4 (of 10) cuts (Kris Davis) and guitar on three of those (Andre Matos). Texts are evidently taken from lit -- Homer, Herodotus, Melville, Steinbeck, Naipaul, Kapuscinski -- although I can't make any of them out and suspect she's just scatting. B
  266. Kenny Shanker: Steppin' Up (2009 [2011], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, from New York, first album, with Art Hirahara on piano and Lage Lund on guitar. Wrote 9 (of 10) pieces, ending with "Somewhere." Typical postbop moves, a bit on the shiny side, always a risk with his instrument. B
  267. Archie Shepp: For Losers/Kwanza (1970-74 [2011], Impulse): Tenor saxophonist, a stalwart avant-gardist from 1964 who move sharply political around 1968, growing some ugly funk beats and adding vocals as if daring the masses to follow his revolution.
    For Losers (1968-69): Three originals, one each from Duke Ellington and Cal Massey, cut in three sessions shuttling a large cast of well known musicians in and out. Leon Thomas and Doris Troy shout out "Stick 'Em Up" -- his lead cut -- while Chinalin Sharpe's "got it bad" and runs through his title poem. B+(***)
    Kwanza (1968-69): Same cast of dozens rotating through the same sessions: hard to say why this took longer to come out, other than fewer vocals -- just his original "Spoo Pee Doo"; on the other hand, the instruments are both funkier -- especially the monster vamp on "Back Back" -- and freer. Moreover, the combined albums build solidarity. A-
  268. Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris: Broken Partials (2010 [2011], Not Two): Piano-bass duo. Shipp is one of the few pianists I can follow all the way down to solo, probably because his attack remains so sharp, but also the flow of his lines makes sense. Morris is best known as a guitarist, but is warm and supportive on bass, and shows more edge than I expected when he gets the lead. B+(***) [Rhapsody]
  269. Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder: The Key Is in the Window (2010 [2011], Tzviryu Music): Trumpet-guitar duets. Monder is a well-known guitarist but most of what you know about him -- especially his sense of groove -- is not relevant here. Don't know much about Shragge: studied at New School and NYU, is interested in the music of North India and Japan, also plays shakuhachi. Looks like his first album, although he has a piece of another one (or two). Mostly slow, deep, trance-like. B+(**)
  270. Jen Shyu/Mark Dresser: Synastry (2009-10 [2011], Pi): Vocalist, b. 1978 in Peoria, IL; parents from Taiwan and East Timor; based in New York. Has several albums since 2002, a research interest in "Taiwanese folk and aboriginal music" extending to Chinese-Cubans, but is best known for her work with Steve Coleman's group. Dresser, of course, is one of our foremost bassists, so these are voice-bass duos. I have a tough time when jazz singers get arty -- a primal case of opera-phobia, I'm afraid -- but this somehow slips through. B+(**)
  271. Audrey Silver: Dream Awhile (2009 [2011], Messy House): Standards singer, got an MBA and worked in advertising, A&:R at CBS Masterworks, then became Director of Marketing at a jazz label (Chesky). Cites Jon Raney (pianist son of guitarist Jimmy Raney) for pointing her back to performing, and Sheila Jordan for lessons. Second album, backed with piano-bass-drums plus guitar on 3 (of 11) cuts. Can start a song on her own and find a unique path through it. B+(**)
  272. Alex Sipiagin: Destinations Unknown (2011, Criss Cross): Trumpet player, b. 1967 in Russia, moved to US in 1991, started in big bands, has more than a dozen albums since 1998. Bright tone, dynamic, runs in fast company with Chris Potter and David Binney on sax, Craig Taborn on keyb, Boris Kozlov on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. A little fancy for hard bop, or basic (meaning hard-charging) for postbop. The long set closes with a ballad. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  273. Enoch Smith Jr.: Misfits (2011, self-released): Pianist, b. 1978 in Rochester, NY. Second album, a piano trio plus vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles -- although there are also uncredited male vocals. Seems like too much singing at first, especially once Smith finally opens up some space for his unconventionally percussive piano. Mostly originals; covers include "Caravan" and "Blackbird" (one song I wish the jazz world would just give up on). B+(*)
  274. Warren Smith: Dragon Dave Meets Prince Black Knight From the Darkside of the Moon (1988 [2011], Porter): Drummer, b. 1934, AMG credits him with seven albums since 1979, or maybe nine, but they also confuse him with the eponymous rockabilly singer from the 1950s. Has well over 100 side credits, early on including Mingus, Kirk, and Pearls Before Swine (also says here he was on Astral Weeks and Lady Soul and Best of Herbie Mann). When he did get a chance to record for a fairly mainstream label he called his record Cats Are Stealing My $hit (on Mapleshade in 1995). Anyway, no one stole this, uh, "children's story -- with adult language -- depicting the conflict between two super beings (super powers) unable to co-exist, whose resulting clash disturbs and alters the face of the planet" -- i.e., the state of the world in the 1980s. Could be more didactic, but it's hard to follow the voices, especially with all the crashes and explosions. On the other hand, Smith's marimba keeps the clashes moving along smartly. B+(*)
  275. Sonore [Brötzmann/Vandermark/Gustafsson]: Cafe Oto/London (2011, Trost): Free sax trio: Peter Brötzmann (alto/tenor sax, clarinet, tarogato), Ken Vandearmark (tenor sax, clarinet), Mats Gustafsson (baritone sax). Fourth album for group, although each has played with one or both of the others many times. Each wrote one piece; the fourth is jointly attributed, which usually means improvised on the spot. Even at 38:42 the noise can be wearing, especially since each horn has the same palette to draw from. B [Rhapsody]
  276. Sounds and Silence: Travels With Manfred Eicher (1980-2008 [2011], ECM): Soundtrack for a film by Peter Guyer and Norbert Wiedner, a documentary on ECM founder/producer Manfred Eicher. Leans toward the classical end of ECM's spectrum -- one Puccini cut, two Arvo Pärt, plus affinity exotica from Gurdjieff, Anouar Brahem, Dino Saluzzi, Eleni Karaindrou -- and away from conventional jazz. Enjoyed a bit of Marilyn Mazur percussion. One could easily construct a better sampler. B-
  277. The Spokes: Not So Fast (2009 [2011], Strudelmedia): Title is descriptive enough: hard to get much momentum without bass and drums, especially if all you have to work with are horns, plus you get that sax quartet feel with nothing but neatly puffed discrete notes. Trio: Andy Biskin (clarinet), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone), Phillip Johnston (soprano sax). All three write: Biskin 6 of 12, Johnston 4, Hasselbring 2. B+(**)
  278. John Stein: Hi Fly (2011, Whaling City Sound): Guitarist, originally from Kansas City, studied and teaches at Berklee; ten albums since 1995. Quartet with Jake Sherman on piano and organ, John Lockwood on bass, and Ze Eduardo Nazario on drums. Wrote 5 of 10 songs, the others trending standard except for Randy Weston's title tune, the originals leaning toward John Scofield-style funk. The organ fits that mode but isn't a major factor. B+(*)
  279. Andrew Sterman: Wet Paint (2011, Innova): Plays tenor sax and alto flute. I figure this is his fifth album since 2002, but AMG splits him up between classical -- he has an album of Philip Glass: Saxophone (Glass, of course, is a pop star in my house) -- and otherwise (meaning jazz in this case). With piano-bass-drums across the board, otherwise split up with Richie Vitale's trumpet/flugelhorn on four cuts, Todd Reynolds' violin on four more -- each taking on the characteristics of the accompaniment. B+(*)
  280. Colin Stetson: New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (2011, Constellation): Saxophonist -- plays most reeds, French horn, flute, cornet, but is most noted for the big bass sax -- originally from Ann Arbor, based in Montreal where he works with Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre. AMG lists four albums, including New History Warfare Vol. 1 in 2008. This is billed as "solo horn compositions" but some percussion is evident, one song is labeled a Bell Orchestre remix, and there are occasional vocals -- Sheila Worden somewhere, Laurie Anderson spoken word on four pieces. Circular breathing turns the horn vamps into continuous tapestries, patterns repeating with various dissonances, and everything else just adds to the sonic interest. A- [Rhapsody]
  281. Colin Stetson: Those Who Didn't Run (2011, Constellation, EP): Two ten-minute pieces. Don't have credits, but sounds like circular breathing sax vamps shagged by extra electronics, the rhythm in the repetition, the dissonance all over the place. Impressive, but on the way to wearing out its welcome when it ended. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  282. Rick Stone Trio: Fractals (2011, Jazzand): Guitarist, from Cleveland, studied at Berklee, wound up in New York. Fourth album since 1990, widely spaced (1994, 2004, 2011). Four covers -- three standards and a Billy Strayhorn piece you don't run into often ("Ballad for Very Sad and Very Tired Lotus Eaters") -- seven originals. Trio with Marco Panascia on bass and Tom Pollard on drums. Has a thin metallic sound, focused on long likes like Wes Montgomery but doesn't pick up the pace. B+(*)
  283. John Stowell/Michael Zilber Quartet: Shot Through With Beauty (2007-09 [2011], Origin): Guitar and tenor/soprano sax respectively, with John Shifflett (acoustic bass) and Jason Lewis (drums) below the line. Stowell is the senior member, from Connecticut, seems to be based in Portland, OR. Cut his first record in 1978, then not much until he landed on Origin in 1998. He has a distinctive, seductive style, with several recent HM candidates (mostly under the group name Scenes). Zilber plays tenor and soprano sax; has four records since 1988. He wrote four songs here (one co-credited to Stowell); Shifflett and Lewis wrote one each -- the other four are from Kenny Wheeler, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Scofield (two). Often-delicate postbop, the sax personable, the guitar adds to the sparkle. B+(**)
  284. Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato: Anticipation (2011, Capri): Front cover and spine mention surnames only. Piano trio, drummer's name first, probably because he has three previous albums with the label, whereas pianist Zaleski's only other credit is second billed behind Mark Zaleski, and bassist Rosato only has one other side credit. Six originals (Zaleski 3, Rosato 2, Stranahan 1), three covers ("All the Things You Are," "Boplicity," "I Should Care"). Solid work, a bit on the quiet side. B+(*)
  285. Jane Stuart: Don't Look Back (2010 [2011], JSM): Standards singer (wrote 1 of 12 songs here; 1 of 13 on her previous album). Based in New York. Second album. Band includes Dave Stryker (guitar) and Dick Oatts (alto sax, flute) although I didn't notice them much. Two Lennon-McCartneys (a decent arrangement of the unjazzable "Eleanor Rigby"), two Dave Frishbergs, one Gershwin (a nice shot at "Summertime" which has been done and done and never wears out), one Porter, others more obscure. B+(*)
  286. JC Stylles: Exhilaration and Other States (2009 [2011], Motéma Music): No periods to be seen anywhere near "JC" -- may stand for his given name, Jason Campbell. Ampersand on spine title but not on cover. AMG misfiled this under Pat Bianchi's name. Stylles is a guitarist, New York-based, first album. Bianchi plays organ, and Lawrence Leathers drums, so this is a soul jazz retro. Nicely done, as these things go. "Love for Sale" is a romp; "Don't Explain" is plaintive and delicate. B+(*)
  287. Ira Sullivan & Stu Katz: A Family Affair (2010 [2011], Origin): Couple of old guys with big grins on the cover. Sullivan's a Chicago fixture: b. 1931, cut a couple albums in the late 1950s, shows up every now and then, mostly playing tenor sax, sometimes alto, soprano, trumpet, flugelhorn, flute -- cut an album in 1981 called Ira Sullivan Does It All. Left the flute home here (thanks for that). Katz plays vibes. AMG gives him one side credit back in 1970. Group straddles swing and bop, starting with two new Sullivan pieces, then "Pennies From Heaven," then "Scrapple From the Apple." They bring up a singer for "Yesterdays" -- Lucia Newell, forget how she was introduced but she slings the scat liberally. B+(**)
  288. Travis Sullivan: New Directions (2010 [2011], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, b. 1971, has a couple previous records, the first from 2000, another a collection of Björk songs released in 2008 as Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra. Mainstream quartet with Mike Eckroth (piano), Marco Panascia (bass), and Brian Fishler (drums). Eight originals, two covers (one Rodgers/Hart). Nothing strikes me as a new direction, but the sax is fast and slick and inclined to soar out of the matrix. Hard to complain about that combo. B+(**)
  289. Susan SurfTone: Shore (2011, Acme Brothers): Guitarist, signs her songs Susan L. Yasinski. Group includes organ, bass, and drums, by Avory, Lynn, and Stephi SurfTone, respectively. Basically, instrumental rock, like Dick Dale, or Duane Eddy without a signature trick. Her originals all have agreeably brief one-word titles. Ends with a cover of "Riders on the Storm." Nothing wrong with this, but it's pretty far down on the list of things I find interesting. B-
  290. The Tierney Sutton Band: American Road (2011, BFM Jazz): Sutton is a standards singer, ninth album since 1998; I don't know them all, but wasn't much impressed until she got happy with On the Other Side in 2006. After a good record idiosyncrasies start to look like character traits, although the confluence of the two would be pretty clear here in any case. She's in the band as a matter of principle, but singer's bands are meant to be invisible -- Betty Carter's excepted, of course, but we're not talking her here -- and this one is pretty anonymous. Her standards this time are well worn, and she piles the weight on, more than "On Broadway" can handle, enough to make "Summertime" and "It Ain't Necessarily So" creak. And I'm dumfounded by an "Amazing Grace" that isn't anywhere near graceful but remarkable nonetheless, and an "America the Beautiful" that isn't, that I'd just as soon not be bothered with. She's finally convinced me that she's kind of weird. But she's still not Betty Carter. B+(**)
  291. Gabor Szabo: The Sorcerer/More Scorcery (1967 [2011], Impulse): Hungarian guitarist, left the country on the eve of the 1956 uprising and made his way to Berklee. First record peddled his folk jazz as gypsy music, then he quickly picked up some Indian affects for his Jazz Raga album.
    The Sorcerer (1967): Recorded live at the Jazz Workshop in Boston, with second guitarist Jimmy Stewart as well as bass, drums, and percussion -- mostly small bells suggesting Indian roots for their tight improvisations. B+(***)
    More Scorcery (1967): Same group, three extra tracks from the same April gig plus three more from their show at Monterey Jazz Festival that September -- less distinctive, although they do step adroitly through a couple of covers that could have been traps. B+(**) B+(**)
  292. The Taal Tantra Experience: Sixth Sense (2011, Ozella): German-based Indian music group, led by tabla player Tanmoy Bose, with a mix of German and Indian names in the microscopic credits text. The tabla is impressive enough, but the fusion tends to even things out, as if the jazz component was smooth. B
  293. Tarana: After the Disquiet (EP) (2011, self-released, EP): Indian drummer Ravish Momin, from Hyderabad, studied north Indian classical music, then went to Carnegie Mellon for an engineering degree. Has two albums on Clean Feed with different editions of his Trio Tarana, typically violin and oud. (The first, with Jason Kao Hwang and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, is excellent.) Here his group is down to two, a duo with Trina Basu on violin, recorded live at Bop Shop in Rochester. Four tracks, 34:06, available digitally at Bandcamp for $3. Something of a retreat, but he still gets most of the trio effect here, adding some electronics for diversity. B+(**)
  294. Frank Tate: Thanks for the Memory: Frank Tate's Musical Tribute to Bobby Short (2011, Arbors): Bassist, b. 1943, has a couple albums since 1993, many more side credits going back to Zoot Sims in 1981, Ruby Braff in 1991, a lot of Arbors artists since then. Short is a name I barely recognize -- in fact, I missed him in putting together my database of people I should know about, something in need of a fix. B. 1924, d. 2005, played piano and sung standards, mostly working night clubs. He recorded close to two dozen albums from 1955 to 2001, including a series of songbooks in the 1970s (Noel Coward, Cole Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart; his Andy Razaf came out in 1987). Tate describes Short as "the most influential musician in his career." With Mike Renzi on piano and Joe Ascione on drums, Tate rounded up "a half-dozen of Bobby Short's saloon colleagues" to take two or three songs each: Barbara Carroll, Rebecca Kilgore, Daryl Sherman, Charles Cochran, Ronny Whyte, and Chris Gillespie. All classic songbook fare -- comfort food in the trade. [Rhapsody]
  295. 3 Cohens: Family (2011, Anzic): Siblings Anat Cohen (tenor sax, clarinet), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), and Yuval Cohen (soprano sax) -- the former the best known, but the writing chores fell to the boys (Avishai 3, Yuval 2). The other five are presumably songs they vamped on around the old kibbutz campfire: "The Mooch," "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Tiger Rag," and "Roll 'Em Pete." Rhythm section they picked up in New York -- Aaron Goldberg (piano), Matt Penman (bass), Gregory Hutchinson (drums) -- along with two-song singer Jon Hendricks, whose mannerisms have gotten creaky enough to be endearing. B+(**)
  296. Tin/Bag: Bridges (2010 [2011], MabNotesMusic): Duo: Kris Tiner (trumpet) and Mike Baggetta (guitar). Third album together, the first under their names, the second a quartet as Tin/Bag. (Artwork uses a vertical bar here, which causes software problems for me so I'm sticking with the slash.) Six Tiner pieces, two by Baggetta, closes with "Just Like a Woman" by Bob Dylan. It all plays very tentative -- slow, indeterminate. Interesting how they tiptoe around Dylan's melody. Harder to appreciate that on their own less known material. B+(*)
  297. Chandler Travis: Philharmonic Blows! (2009 [2010], Sonic Trout): Gray-beared guitarist-singer, back cover says he's 82, but I haven't found anywhere else that confirms that. AMG lists eight albums since 1993. Before that he was in a rock group called the Incredible Casuals: memorialized here in "The Day the Casuals Went to Sweden," easily the lousiest song here. What that song lacks is the squeaky, shrieking brass the albums opens and closes with, more than fulfilling the party graphics on the cover. B+(**)
  298. Tribute to JJ Cale, Volume 1: The Vocal Sessions (2010, Zoho Roots): Cale, b. 1938, is a singer-songwriter from Oklahoma. He was best known in the 1970s: I panned Okie (1974) in my ancient Rekord Report, then didn't bother with him until I got a set of 1973-83 Unreleased Recordings in 2007 and slammed it too. He liked blues form but couldn't bring himself to play blues, scruples that don't bother the label's stable, so they mostly just play and shout louder: Swamp Cabbage, JJ Grey, Jimmy Hall, Rufus Huff, Greg Skaff, Dixie Tabernacle, nobody but the Persuasions you'd have heard of if not on the label's mailing list. I've been avoiding this, but it's pretty tolerable, with "Same Old Blues" markedly improved. Otherwise, the only choice cuts are by the Persuasions, who are way out of this league. Never got Volume 2: The Instrumental Sessions -- just as well with me. B-
  299. Gianluigi Trovesi/Gianni Coscia: Frère Jacques: Round About Offenbach (2009 [2011], ECM): Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) was born in Cologne, son of a synagogue cantor, moved to Paris to study and remained in his new country, mostly writing popular operettas. About half of the music here comes from him, the rest by Trovesi and Coscia, much of it explicitly paired to an Offenbach piece. B+(**)
  300. Tunnel Six: Lake Superior (2010 [2011], OA2): Sextet: two horns, piano plus guitar, bass and drums: Ben Dietschi (saxes), Chad McCullough (trumpet/flugelhorn), Andrew Oliver (piano), Brian Seligman (guitar), Ron Hynes (bass), Tyson Stubelek (drums). Only McCullough and Oliver are in my database. Only the drummer missed out on a writing credit (Dietschi, McCullough, and Seligman have two each). Group met at a Banff Centre jazz workshop, and recorded this in Portland. Pretty ingratiating as postbop goes, everyone well behaved and supportive. Couple dull spots but most bright and cheery. B+(**)
  301. McCoy Tyner: Inception/Reaching Fourth (1962 [2011], Impulse): Pianist, joined John Coltrane's soon-to-be-famous Quartet in 1960 (ahead of Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison), stepping out on his own with these first two piano trio albums.
    Inception (1962): With Art Davis and Elvin Jones, packing four originals including "Effendi" and the title tune along with two covers, including a "Speak Low" that makes clear his speed and wit. B+(***)
    Reaching Fourth (1963): Henry Grimes and Roy Haynes for his second trio in the year. Four covers to two originals this time, takes his time and settles in for a long and beautiful career. B+(**)
  302. Ursa Minor: Showface (2011, self-released): New York rock group fronted by singer Michelle Casillas, had a previous album in 2003. Doesn't belong here but someone sent me a copy, guitarist-producer Tony Scherr has something of a jazz rep, not sure that drummer Robert DiPietro doesn't ring a bell somewhere, and some of the guests definitely do (e.g., trombonist Ryan Keberle). The strings and French horns do little to alter the fact that this is a guitar band, the singer is mostly affectless but on a slow one turns on the charm. Seems like a nice group going nowhere. B+(*)
  303. Freddy V: Easier Than It Looks (2008 [2011], Watersign Productions): Saxophonist (tenor, alto), Fred Vigdor, basically an r&b guy, first album as such, with a band he calls Mo Pleasure. Background starts with playing sax and arranging horns for Average White Band, the most plainly soulful of the post-Allman white rock bands to emerge from the South in the 1970s -- a credit, I'd say, to the horns. A couple of soul vocals, a lot of tasty sax licks and easy going rhythmic raunch, which means it will be slotted with smooth jazz even though it's a cut above. AMG lists this as 2008, but the publicist swears the street date is Sept. 13, 2011. They do that. B
  304. Warren Vaché: Ballads and Other Cautionary Tales (2011, Arbors): Trad-leaning cornet player, reaches for the ballad songbook not so much because at 60 he's slowing down as he wants to enjoy the scenery. A few with just bass and drums, joining in pianist Tardo Hammer on 6 (of 12), trombonist John Allred on one of those, and tenor saxophonist Houston Person on three others. Person damn near steals the show. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  305. Dave Valentin: Pure Imagination (2011, High Note): Flute player, b. 1954 in Chelmsford, England; has a couple dozen albums since 1979, at least lately relying heavily on Latin rhythms which set his flute off nicely. He has a group here that can do that -- Bill O'Connell (piano), Ruben Rodriguez (bass), Robby Ameen (drums), and especially Richie Flores (percussion) -- and the opener "Smile" does just that. Afterwards it's hit and miss. B
  306. Geoff Vidal: She Likes That (2009 [2011], Arts and Music Factory): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1980, from New Orleans, based in New York since 2006. First album, a postbop quintet with trumpet, guitar, bass, and drums. Veers into fusion toward the end, with guitarist Joe Hundertmark taking charge. B
  307. The Tommy Vig Orchestra 2012: Welcome to Hungary! (2011, Klasszikus Jazz): I have an advance CD, and a fairly thick booklet which is probably a proof copy, but which is so jumbled up I can make no sense of who plays what or what's going on here. Vig plays vibes, was b. 1938, studied at Bela Bartok Conservatory, fled Hungary in 1956, cut some records in US that seem to be regarded as instrumental pop. This is a big band with cimbalom and tarogato and a lot of horn power -- the guest performance by David Murray towering above all. Six bonus cuts without Murray show the band to be loud and brash, but not all that interesting. In order to rise above the background, Murray is little short of titanic. B+(*) [advance]
  308. Ricardo Villalobos/Max Loderbauer: Re: ECM (2009 [2011], ECM, 2CD): Two electronics producers. Villalobos, b. 1970 in Chile, has more than a dozen albums since 2002. Loderbauer has nothing under his own name, but several dozen composer/producer credits. Both based in Berlin. This isn't a remix of ECM material; more an attempt to construct electronics frameworks around musical structures from various ECM records, starting on the classical end of the spectrum (Arvo Part, Alexander Knaifel) with a few jazz sources (Louis Sclavis, John Abercrombie, Paul Motian the best known). First disc leans toward industrial sounds but not intense; second is more pastoral until it eventually works in some choral voices. B+(*)
  309. Alex Vittum: Prism (2010 [2011], Prefecture): Percussionist, based in San Francisco, half of the duo Tide Tables. Subtitled "solo works for electro-acoustic percussion." Describes Prism as "a signal processing software environment I developed in Max/MSP" to use with his drum kit. Interesting, the drumming more so than the electronics. Not much packaging for my copy: just a plastic sleeve and an insert. B+(*)
  310. Giancarlo Vulcano: Unfinished Spaces (2011, Distant Second): Guitarist, from Manhattan, also plays synthesizers here. Second album I know of, both soundtracks. This one has something to do with the Cuban National Art Schools, Cuban culture and history. Twenty short pieces, small vignettes that avoid silence, filling in atmosphere, mood, occasionally a bit of movement. Strings, sax (Jim Bruening), trumpet (Laurie Krein), percussion (Dafnis Prieto!). B+(**)
  311. Greg Ward: Greg Ward's Phonic Juggernaut (2011, Thirsty Ear): Alto saxophonist, b. 1982, based in Chicago, has a previous record by Greg Ward's Fitted Shards. This is a sax trio with Joe Sanders on bass and Damion Reid on drums. Wrote all but one cover from Andrew Bird. Freebop, nicely constructed, not many surprises. B+(*) [advance: 2011-10-25]
  312. Freddie Washington: In the Moment (2009, RFW): Electric bassist; AMG lists him as Freddie "Ready Freddie" Washington, and if you don't know that good luck. First and only album, although his side credits listing runs to three pages, starting in 1977 with Patrice Rushen and 1979 with Herbie Hancock. Mild-mannered bass-led groove pieces, emphasis on mild. Some background vocals but nothing hysterical. B
  313. Kenny Werner with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra: Institute of Higher Learning (2010 [2011], Half Note): Pianist, b. 1951, has a wide range of records since 1979. This one is a big band using his compositions (plus trad favorite "House of the Rising Sun") and his arrangements. I haven't run into BJO before: AMG lists 4 albums, their website offers 13 since 1999 for sale. Directed by saxophonist Frank Vaganée, a standard-sized big band with guitar but no piano -- guitarist Peter Hertmans gets the first solo, a dandy. Dedicated to Bob Brookmeyer. Liner notes by Maria Schneider. B+(**)
  314. Westchester Jazz Orchestra: Maiden Voyage Suite (2011, WJO): Conventional big band, directed and conducted by Mike Holober, founded in 2003 with Holober joining in 2007. Second album. I don't doubt the musicianship -- they're close enough to NYC they can draw some jazz names -- but Herbie Hancock's compositions don't grab me. B
  315. Randy Weston: Blue Moses (1972 [2011], CTI/Masterworks Jazz): Started out in the late 1950s as a pianist out to explore new things, especially to connect back to Africa, with Morocco a special interest -- three of four titles here have African place names, the exception "Night in Medina" which moves even further afield. Probably this was Weston's first big band venture -- Don Sebesky is credited with the arrangements, but Weston periodically returned to the big band well, and you can taste the excitement here. While CTI's stars take up the solo slots -- Freddie Hubbard is brilliant, and even Hubert Laws' flutes fit in nicely -- the brass section packs quite some whallop. A-
  316. Ben Williams: State of Art (2011, Concord Jazz): Bassist, electric as well as acoustic. Won a Monk prize which came with a Concord record deal, and this debut is the record. Annoying that I can't find cut-by-cut credits, since he shuttles horns in and out, has John Robinson rap on one piece, uses a string quartet elsewhere. This leans toward easy electronic grooves, with Gerald Clayton favoring the Fender Rhodes, and possibly the leader his electric bass, but they're friendly and rather fun, with Jaleel Shaw and/or Marcus Strickland picking up the level on sax. I'll even applaud Christian Scott's trumpet solo on "The Lee Morgan Story" -- not because it reminds me of Morgan so much as because the rap puts me in a good mood even though the story is tragic. Just hard to think of Morgan without smiling. B+(**) [Rhapsody]
  317. Jeff Williams: Another Time (2010 [2011], Whirlwind): Drummer, b. 1950 in Ohio, studied at Berklee with Alan Dawson; joined Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach in 1973, has done steady work as a sideman, with a handful of albums under his own name. He wrote 5 of 8 pieces here, the other three one each from his two-horn quartet mates: Duane Eubanks (trumpet), John O'Gallagher (alto sax), John Hébert (bass). Postbop tone, draws on the avant-garde without really going there. B+(*)
  318. Marty Williams: Long Time Comin' (2010 [2011], In Moon Bay): Standards singer, plays piano, based in Bay Area, website claims 10 albums but can't find him on AMG. Also says he's a "Apple Certified Logic Pro" -- don't know what that is but it could well pay better than music. Gritty, distinctive voice; doesn't sound like much at first but I found it gaining on me. Eclectic bunch of songs, including some that almost never work out well, like the Beatles' "Come Together," Jon Hendricks' vocalese to "Monk's Dream," Bobby Hebb's cheezy "Sunny," but he gets traction on most of them; the can't fail "Love for Sale," of course, but also "Falling in Love Again" and "The Look of Love" and even "Compared to What." B+(**)
  319. Anthony Wilson: Seasons: Live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2011, Goat Hill): The title cut is a four-part song cycle commission for guitar quartet -- Steve Cardenas, Julian Lage, and Chico Pinheiro help out -- running Winter to Autumn. After that each guitarist gets a solo piece, then one last group piece. The quartets sound like soft solos to me, with a slight Spanish/classical feel. The solos have about half the presence. Didn't watch the DVD. B-
  320. Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Legacy (2011, Mack Avenue): First glance at the title had me wondering why at 92 he's finally looking back, but the legacy he plumbs here is built on pilfering bits of Stravinsky, Debussy, and Puccini. In that he's as clever as ever, but the latter half holds more interest: a seven-part suite called "Yes, Chicago Is . . ." -- logically, this follows on from his marvellous Detroit suite. His Orchestra keeps swelling -- six reeds, six trumpets, more solo power than he can possibly use. B+(***) [Rhapsody]
  321. Mark Winkler: Sweet Spot (2011, Cafe Pacific): Vocalist, 11th (or 10th) album since 1985; writes (or co-writes) about half of his material, including a self-deprecating piece about a lounge pianist dreaming of Rio (reprised here so there are both east and west coast versions). B+(*)
  322. Woody Witt: Pots and Kettles (2010 [2011], Blue Bamboo Music): Tenor saxophonist (also plays some soprano), born in Omaha, studied at University of Houston and UNT, based in Houston, teaching at Houston Community College. Second album, quartet with pianist Gary Norian (who co-produced and wrote 5 of 10 songs, to Witt's 3, with two Eddie Harris covers), bass and drums, plus "special guest" Chris Cortez (guitar) on three tracks. Postbop, nice tone, elegant, graceful. B+(*)
  323. Andréa Wood: Dhyana (2010 [2011], Wood): Title is a Buddhist term (can't do the macron accent over the first 'a' using my chosen codeset); has something to do with reflection/serenity. Singer, first album; wrote 1 of 11 songs, added lyrics to a Wayne Shorter melody for another, arranged the rest. From Washington, DC, one of those "musical families" where she started piano at five (although others play here). Spent three years of her childhood in Prague. Studied at Michigan State and Manhattan School of Music. Nice voice on a straight standard -- "I Only Have Eyes for You" is seductive, for a while. Don't care for the two Brazilian arrangements (yes, one's a Jobim). B
  324. Sam Yahel: From Sun to Sun (2010 [2011], Origin): Plays piano and organ -- probably has many more organ credits in his career than piano, but lists piano here first. Surprisingly little biography available on web -- even on his own website once I hacked through the Flash: moved to New York in 1990, played with a lot of people; seventh album, has about two dozen side credits, with Norah Jones and Joshua Redman prominent. Trio with Matt Penman on bass, Jochen Rueckert (aka Rückert) on drums. Piano is snappy and assured; organ slinky, which is about right. B+(**)
  325. Yeahwon (2010, ArtistShare): Vocalist Yeahwon Shin, from South Korea ("suburbs of Seoul"), moved to New York to study at New School. First album: aside from one Korean folk song, everything else is Brazilian, sung in Portuguese, with Yeahwon co-credited on one piece with Egberto Gismonti. Core group is Ben Street (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums), and either Kevin Hays or Alon Yavnai (piano), with producer Sun Chung on guitar (6 of 11 cuts), with Mark Turner (tenor sax) and Rob Curto (accordion) on one cut each, Gismonti on the "Epilogue," and various percussionists. I can see the attraction, but not the point. B
  326. Denny Zeitlin: Labyrinth: Live Solo Piano (2008 [2011], Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1938, has a couple dozen records since 1964. Three of last four have been solo, which strikes me as too many but he's deep within his own distinctive style. B+(*)
  327. Miguel Zenón: Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (2011, Marsalis Music): Alto saxophonist, MacArthur Fellowship genius, seventh album since 2002, third specifically targeting the music of his native Puerto Rico. Tremendous player, his sax repeatedly soaring above his fine quartet -- Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Henry Cole (drums). I'm less pleased with the 10-piece wind ensemble conducted by Guillermo Klein -- flutes, clarinets, oboe, bassoon, both French and English horns -- that sometimes broadens the sound sweep and sometimes just warbles in the interstices. B+(***) [download]

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Tempest Over Iran

The news has been overrun with stories about the grave threat of Iran's nuclear program, or at least the grave threat of Israel's well publicized desire to pre-emptively bomb sites in Iran on the theory that doing so would slow Iran's development program down. Israel's treat has some credibility give that Israel launched similar bombing runs on nuclear power sites in Iraq and Syria, but those sites were smaller and closer, and Israel's plans weren't anywhere near as broadly advertised. Iran's sites are numerous, widely scattered, many in deep underground bunkers, presumably defended with anti-aircraft weapons.

It's not clear that Israel has the capability of launching an effective attack. Israel's case for attacking is uncritically examined in a long article by Ronen Bergman in The New York Times, Will Israel Attack Iran? Indeed, one thing that is clear from the article is that Israel is already attacking Iran. Israel has long backed anti-Iranian terror groups like the MEK. Israel has reportedly launched cyberattacks against Iran. And Israel has already managed to assassinate a number of Iranian scientists. Israel has been successful at goading the US and Europe into adopting crippling economic sanctions against Iran, and many of these have been adopted explicitly in hopes that by appeasing Israel they will forestall even larger and more deadly acts of war.

Tony Karon explains how this works:

Reiterating the threat of military action is a well-established Israeli tactic: Netanyahu argues publicly that Iran will only concede if it faces a real and imminent danger of military action. "This threat is crucial for scaring the Iranians and for goading on the Americans and the Europeans [into putting more pressure on Tehran]," wrote Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit last summer, castigating Israel's recently retired Mossad chief Meir Dagan for pooh-poohing the idea of an Israeli strike on Iran. "It is also crucial for spurring on the Chinese and the Russians. Israel must not behave like an insane country. Rather, it must create the fear that if it is pushed into a corner it will behave insanely."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Israel's strategy is nuts. For starters, they assume that a nuclear-armed Iran would behave differently from every other state that has nuclear arms: namely, that it would use those weapons, perhaps even clandestinely, to preëmptively destroy another state. All other states keep their weapons in reserve to deter an attack through the threat of retaliation and mutual destruction. The US is a partial exception to this: during its monopoly period the US became the first and last nation to ever drop atomic bombs on an enemy. Since then, some US officials have threatened to use nuclear weapons on enemies with no nuclear weapons, as in Korea and Vietnam, but there were never any concrete operations to do so. The US did perpetrate the only instance of "nuclear blackmail" when Kennedy threatened the Soviet Union over Cuba, and Nixon later bluffed an attack on Russia -- something he dubbed his "madman theory." Even now, when US presidents like Bush and Obama boast of keeping "all options on the table," the world is well aware that one of those options is nuclear.

Israel's fear of annihilation has deep psychological roots, most specifically in the Holocaust, but that paranoia also depends on the assumed identity between the Jewish people and the Israeli state -- an assumption that many who are troubled by the latter do not share. For Israel to see a potentially nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat requires a whole chain of assumptions that are more or less dubious: that Iran would develop nuclear weapons expressly to attack Israel, and that Iran would be indifferent to nuclear retalliation by Israel. It would be far simpler, and far more logical, to think that Iran's sole interest in nuclear weapons would be to deter attack from hostile neighbors -- as, for instance, the examples of India and Pakistan show, or for that matter as was the case with Israel's own program. (I cautiously use the past tense here, as Israel too brags about keeping "all options on the table"; Israel's options include nuclear weapons, and indeed it's hard to see how Israel could manage to destroy Iran's bunkers without using nuclear weapons -- so to a large extent, Israel's perception of an Iranian nuclear threat is a reflection of Israel's own willingness to use nuclear weapons against Iran.)

One of the big points in the Bergman article is this idea that Ehud Barak has that there is only a limited time window in which Israel can act to stop Iran (presumably with acceptable consequences for Israel, if not necessarily for its allies), and beyond that window Iran will be immune from Israeli threats. That sounds like a very big incentive for Iran to push ahead: in essence, Israel is saying that as long as Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons Israel will feel free to attack it, but once Iran has nuclear weapons, Israel will have to treat Iran with more respect.

But stop for a moment and think what this means. Israel likes to be able to bully its neighbors. If Israel's security honchos think that Syria is doing something it doesn't like, Israel just swoops over and bombs it -- no questions asked, no risk. Syria doesn't dare strike back against Israel. And when Syria complains to the UN, the US is there to veto any resolution. Same with Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, you name it: Israel can act with impunity, because no one else can stand up to it. But a nuclear-armed Iran would cramp their style, forcing them to think twice before blowing something up or killing a scientist or political figure or whatever.

Another thing that's nuts about Israel's ploy: why should the world be willing to support, or humor, or appease, Israel's desire to do something insane? When Sarkozy, for instance, came out in support of sanctions, he sounded like Chamberlain in Munich, reluctantly doing so only to buy "peace for our time" -- the clear implication there was that the threat to peace he was appeasing was Israel, not Iran. The fact is that Israel has behaved criminally ever since its founding, when its first move was to overrun the UN partition boundaries to seize Jerusalem, and when the UN sent a mediator in Israelis promptly killed him. Israel then drove over 700,000 Palestinians into exile, stripped them of their citizenship and confiscated their property, in violation of UN resolutions. From 1949-67 Israel repeatedly violated the armistice borders, and in 1967 they more than doubled their territory, again ignoring UN resolutions to return the land in exchange for peace treaties. Instead, they set up hundreds of illegal settlements and outposts while stripping the occupied population of all rights. They promoted a civil war in Lebanon, and occupied the country for 18 years, then six years later came back and bombed it again, just out of spite. They've sent agents out into dozens of countries to commit murder. They've committed "false flag" acts of terrorism like the Lavon bombings of British offices in Egypt. They've developed nuclear weapons. And as Gershom Gorenberg shows in his recent book, The Unmaking of Israel, Israel's contempt for law has lapped over into their daily life.

The nations of the world should be working to rein in Israel's insanity -- not flattering it, or catering to it. One might, for instance, couple sanctions against Iran with a promise that the same (or stiffer) sanctions will be applied against Israel if the latter attacks Iran, or if Israel doesn't desist from activities to sabotage and destabilize Iran. (As the Bergman article explains, Israel's endgame viz. Iran is "regime change" -- how they would do this, let alone why the Iranian people would acquiesce in yet another foreign country picking its leaders, isn't explained at all plausibly.) One might, after all, reasonably suspect that Iran's desire to obtain nuclear weapons is conditioned by fear of attack by a nuclear-armed adversary like Israel (or, for that matter, the US). Since sanctions are seen as a route toward some sort of negotiated agreement with Iran, wouldn't they be even more effective if combined with an effort to make Iran more secure, as opposed to threats which only make nuclear weapons seem more desirable?

All this assumes that the charge that Iran desires to build a nuclear arsenal is correct, and not just a hallucination conjured from the paranoid psyches of Israel's security establishment. There is in fact much reason to doubt this. Iran is a member of the NPT, and as such has officially forsworn nuclear weapons development, and everything verified about Iran's nuclear power program conforms to NPT strictures. Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei has declared nuclear weapons to be inimical to Islam -- an unequivocal statement which will be awkward, to say the least, to amend in the future. Iran's desire to build nuclear power plants isn't unreasonable (although, given the inherent risks of nuclear power may not be wise -- the US continues to promote nuclear power plants around the world but there haven't been any concrete efforts to build new ones here in a couple decades). And Iran's long isolation from world trade -- part its own fault and part not -- has made it all the more critical to Iran to be self-sufficient. (Iran has already gone through the experience of inheriting an Air Force full of American F-15s that it is unable to buy parts for. The Bushehr reactor, started under the Shah, has long been at the mercy of foreign suppliers. On the other hand, one suspects that much of the opposition from France, Germany, and Russia is fear that Iran will succeed and wind up competing for sales of nuclear technology.) Moreover, history has shown that nuclear weapons are expensive and useless; however, having the materials, technology, and expertise may be enough to deter foreign attack. As Karon points out, a number of nations have "threshold capacity" -- everything they need to build a bomb but no finished bombs (he cites "Japan, Brazil, Argentina and others"). There is also a fair amount of ego at stake for Iran: they want to be seen as an advanced nation, one credential for which is mastery of nuclear technology.

Unless you think that Iran's leaders enjoy some death wish where the path to heaven passes through Jerusalem -- a strange perversion of Mohammed's "midnight flight" -- it's hard to think of any reason Iran would want nuclear weapons other than to put an end to Israel's persistent goading. Israel has been predicting that Iran will develop nuclear weapons in 3-5 years ever since 1995. The only thing different now is that they've finally shortened the time frame -- which oddly makes one think they must know something even though they have a two decade track record of knowing nothing.

I've made vague reference to "the world" above, which may or may not include the US, but I'm thinking more of Europe, Russia, China, Japan, and a few others -- India and Brazil especially hate to be excluded. The World doesn't have a lot of commitment one way or the other, but generally dislikes nuclear proliferation -- even if the risk is small, who wants more? -- and worries about an oil price spike, which is likely to happen if Iran's oil is taken off the world market, and certain if oil stops flowing through the Straits of Hormuz -- the main place where Iran's military could fight back (where, in effect, Iran could apply economic sanctions on the rest of the world, not that it would be so neat). (You'd also like to think that the World would put a high value on peace and justice, but their focus on Iran and not Israel here isn't encouraging.) World interests need to find a way to mediate the crisis, but for the most part they've assumed their risks are so minimal that they've just let Israel and the US steer their options.

The US is part of the World, but is also very peculiar -- at least where Israel is concerned. The US should share the World's concerns, and even more acutely. The US economy is exceptionally sensitive to oil price spikes, partly because oil is such a large part of the US trade deficit, partly because the US has kept gas taxes low so price spikes are relatively large. And the US has extensive business interests, not to mention troops, all around Iran, so if war broke out the US would feel the destruction as much as any country other than Iran. But even as Obama has backed out of the war in Iraq and is starting to back away from Afghanistan, his administration has turned aggressively against Iran. The reason is plainly that for domestic political reasons Obama has lost his command of US foreign policy toward Iran: he has subcontracted it out to Israel. (Of course, we should have recognized this the moment Obama appointed long-time Israel flack Dennis Ross as his "Iran advisor.")

There are lots of ways to understand why this worked out this way, but one as good as any is explained by David Bromwich in a review of Newt Gingrich's campaign tome (To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine), a piece called The Republican Nightmare.

If anything united the Republicans besides their loathing for gun control, abortion, big government, and Obama, it was their avowal of hostility to Iran and support of anything Israel might do against it. [ . . . ]

By contrast, the most belligerent Republican on Israel and Iran has turned out to be Santorum: he asserted, in a recorded conversation with a voter on November 21, that "all the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis, they're not Palestinians. There is no 'Palestinian.'" A few days earlier, Santorum had said about the threat of Iran: "A country that is developing a weapon of mass destruction to use it to destroy another country must be stopped in a preemptive strike." And on Meet the Press on January 1 he affirmed his view in different words: Iranian leaders must open their facilities to inspection and begin to dismantle their advanced equipment, or the US will attack.

This statement comes at a moment of enormous tension -- heightened by Israel's warmest supporters in Congress. The Iran Threat Reductions Act, proposed by the Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, passed in the House of Representatives on December 14 by a vote of 410-11. This crudely assertive and possibly unconstitutional bill would prohibit all contact between Iranian and American officials without fifteen days' prior notice to Congress. Bill Clinton, in 1996, complained of the "scandalous electioneering" practiced by Benjamin Netanyahu from abroad.

Fifteen years later, ever since his visit to Congress in May, Benjamin Netanyahu has been working to intimidate the president and pull from Republican candidates and from Congress at large professions of loyalty to his project of bombing Iran to reduce its possible nuclear capability. [ . . . ]

Probably none of the Republicans who clocked in at the Iowa debates to back aggressive US support of Israel against Iran was aware of this internal division -- easily discoverable in recent stories in Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. Such an uprising from the military and intelligence establishment itself, against an intended military action by an elected government, is exceedingly rare in the history of democracies. So we are at a strange crossroads. The right-wing coalition government of Israel is trying to secure support, with the help of an American party in an election year, for an act of war that it could not hope to accomplish unassisted; while an American opposition party complies with the demand of support by a foreign power, in an election year, to gain financial backing and popular leverage that it could not acquire unassisted.

You can see how this works: Obama's basic sense of strategy is to take whatever the Republicans say as his normative guideline, then dial it back 10-15% toward sanity, confident that that's all the difference he needs to promise to keep his base and enough of the middle. This approach is bad enough on issues where the parties differ only in degree, but 85% of totally fucking nuts is way too far gone. Presidents normally have a lot of leeway in foreign policy, but here the AIPAC-whipped Congress insists on tying Obama's hands, preventing his administration from even talking to anyone in Iran, lest they figure out how to derail imminent war.

The funny thing is this is a situation that could be resolved if only both sides took some responsibility. All sanctions against Iran should be dropped as long as Iran's program is open to and approved by NPT inspectors. This means that Iran can have its nuclear power industry, including its own enrichment facilities, but cannot divert fuel for weapons development. On the other hand, Israel, the US, and any other party will be prohibited from any efforts to sabotage or destabilize Iran or to influence Iranian politics, under threat of severe sanctions. In effect, the World would guarantee that Iran cannot be be attacked or threatened, as has been the case almost constantly since the Shah was deposed in 1979. In turn, Iran would ensure that the Straits of Hormuz will remain open to shipping, and Iran would agree not to interfere in other nations except as agreed by those nations. This would also be a good time to solve the issue of Hezbollah in Lebanon: if Israel would return its last sliver of Lebanese soil and the several thousand Lebanese it has kept jailed since 2000, and agree not to ever attack Lebanon again or interfere in Lebanon's politics, Iran would agree to stop shipping arms to Hezbollah, and Hezbollah would in time disband its militia. (I don't see a need for them to do so until they can trust that Israel would keep up its end of the bargain. Iranian support of Hamas is another issue, but doesn't really amount to much. It would, of course, be good to resolve that too, that that is a much thornier problem from the Israeli side.) As these agreement go into place, the US would open diplomatic and commercial relations with Iran. In particular, Iran could (if it wishes) draw on US expertise to improve the safety and reliability of its nuclear power plants, since it's in everyone's interest that the damn things not blow up or melt down.

This is hardly utopian: pretty much everything I just described was offered for negotiation by Iran a decade ago, when Iran had a relatively reformist prime minister and proved helpful in getting international agreement on how to run Afghanistan. Bush not only rebuffed such efforts, he assigned Iran to his "axis of evil" -- a phrase that came out of the efforts of Israel-worshipping neocons who saw invading Iraq as a stepping stone to toppling Iran (they liked to say, "anyone can go to Baghdad; real men go to Tehran"). Obama was in large part elected because the American people was sick and tired of Bush's warmongering and the quagmires it led to, but since taking office he has never been able to muster the guts to face down the forces of militarism (of which the Israel lobby looms large). The Republican hawks are giving him another chance to campaign against senseless, fruitless wars. Maybe at last he can find himself, if only he doesn't embarrass himself too badly in the meantime.

Expert Comments

Thought I should publicize El Intruso's poll:

Poll fans: here are the results of El Intruso's jazz critics poll (in Spanish, alas): http://goo.gl/Euzju

I'm afraid that rather than carefully balancing everything, I just jotted down a bunch of names I wanted to see in print.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Rhapsody Streamnotes (February 2012)

Pick up text here.

Note: I got a little confused and didn't get all of the usual indexing done before posting this. I'll patch that up in the near future.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Downloader's Guide to KISS: The Make-Up Years

Insert text from here.

This is the first of a potentially long series of single-artist guides. All columns are indexed and archived here. You can follow A Downloader's Diary on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Expert Comments


Well, I guess I have to correct Tatum on his misquote:

Tom Hull once opined that "something not worth doing well is not worth doing at all," a maxim from his days as a programmer.

What I actually said was that "something not worth doing at all isn't worth doing well." His version is more intuitive, at least to people with a quality fetish -- a malady that, I'm afraid, has dogged me throughout my career. But I've all too frequently run into cases where someone committed something that shouldn't be done but we were stuck with. Projects like that tend to get put off because there's no good solution, so that's when I came up with my quip. (Then I spent two days hacking together an interface that became obsolete and unused the day after I demoed it.)

Tatum did work far above my standards on KISS. If, on the other hand, I ever pull my Journey reviews together, you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Recycled Goods (94): February 2012

New Recycled Goods: pick up text here. Total review count: 3136.

Expert Comments

Jeff Binder submitted the following Greasemonkey script to remove the thumbs up/down from the Expert Witness blog. I don't particularly want to do this, but I do want to be able to use Greasemonkey to get rid of other obnoxious crap that shows up in other websites.

// ==UserScript==
// @name          Remove thumbs
// @namespace     http://localhost
// @description   Removes the "ratings" feature from the Expert Witness blog
// @include       http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/expert-witness-blogpost.aspx*
// @run-at        document-end
// @version       1
// ==/UserScript==

GM_addStyle('.ic-pst-ctrls {display:none !important}');

Jan 2012